Abdullah Abdullah has won the most votes in the first round of Afghanistan’s presidential vote, the election commission said on Saturday, adding as it announced preliminary results that he lacked the majority needed to avoid a run-off.

“Our assessments show that the election goes to second round between the two leading candidates,” said commission head Yousuf Nooristani “But it depends on the complaint evaluation after the preliminary results.” Mr. Abdullah, a former foreign minister, will face runner-up Ashraf Ghani in the run-off.

Mr. Nooristani said Mr. Abdullah, the opposition leader, received 2,973,706 votes, or 44.9 per cent of the total ballots cast, and Mr. Ghani, a World Bank economist, secured 2,089,417 votes or 31.5 per cent.

Candidates need more than 50 per cent to become president, according to the Afghan constitution.

Some 6,892,816 Afghans cast their votes earlier this month to choose a successor for incumbent president, Hamid Karzai.

The runoff is planned for May 28, two weeks after the release of final results once complaints have been assessed.

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