Abdullah Abdullah claims victory in Afghanistan election

Abdullah Abdullah claims victory in Afghanistan election

President Ashraf Ghani's rival claims victory but electoral body criticises him saying his announcement is premature.

Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan's chief executive and President Ashraf Ghani's top rival, has claimed victory after the first round of voting in the presidential election over the weekend, though official counting is still under way.

"We have the most votes in this election," Abdullah said at a news conference on Monday.

"The results will be announced by the IEC [Independent Election Commission], but we have the most votes. The election is not going to go to a second round."

Abdullah, who is seeking the presidency for the third time after losing in 2009 and 2014, said his team would "make the new government".

Abdullah has shared power with Ghani over the past five years in a so-called unity government formed by the United States in the wake of allegations of widespread fraud and corruption in the 2014 polls.

Electoral body slams Abdullah

Senior IEC official Habib Rahman Nang immediately slammed Abdullah's announcement as premature.

"No candidate has the right to declare himself the winner," he said. "According to the law, it is the IEC that decides who is the winner."

Results are not expected until October 19. Candidates need more than 50 percent of the vote to be declared an outright winner, or else the top two will head for a second round in November.

The vote held on Saturday saw a low turnout because of the threat of attacks, a muted campaign and concerns over fraud.

Election officials have said the result would be the purest yet, with equipment such as biometric fingerprint readers and better training for poll workers ensuring the vote was fair.

However, Abdullah claimed in Monday's remarks that "some government officials" meddled in the election process. He did not give any details on his allegation.

His remarks follow the release on social media of several videos purporting to show election workers stuffing ballots.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier commended "all Afghans who exercised their democratic voice", and "congratulates them on their commitment to selecting their leaders through the ballot box."

Authorities heralded Saturday's election as a success because the Taliban was unable to pull off a large-scale attack resulting in high casualty numbers, and there were fewer technical difficulties than some had feared.

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