Former Afghan foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah is in the lead in the partial vote count for the presidential elections, authorities said on Sunday.

The Election Commission announced the results based on 500,000 votes from 26 of 34 provinces. Some 7 ballots were cast in the April 5 poll.

Mr. Abdullah received 212,312 votes, or 41.9 per cent, while former World Bank technocrat Ashraf Ghani garnered 190,561 votes, or 37.6 per cent.

Another ex-foreign minister, Zalmai Rassoul, received 49,821 votes, to place a distant third with 9.8 per cent.

A final vote count is expected on May 14. If none of the candidates receive 50 per cent of the vote, a run-off election will take place.

Yousuf Nooristani, the head of the Election Commission, cautioned not to read too much into the first batch of results.

“Let me make it clear that the results could change in the future, as the results with additional percentages of the votes are released. This is not the final,” Mr. Nooristani told reporters.

“Today, one candidate is in the lead, while tomorrow another one could pass him.” Ballots from eight remote provinces did not include in the partial counting.

Meanwhile, the electoral complaints commission said it had received 1,892 written complaints containing evidence of voter fraud or irregularities, out of a total 3,724 complaints.

Among those, 870 are designated as “priority one,” meaning they could affect the final results, said Nadir Mohseni, the spokesman for the complaints commission.

The preliminary full result of the presidential poll is expected to be announced on April 24, after which the complaints commission could still take three more weeks to investigate and throw out votes.

Mr. Mohseni said the commission has investigated 75 of the complaints so far and, if necessary, the time frame for reviewing the complaints could be extended by several days.

Both top candidates have complained of electoral fraud.

In the last 2009 presidential election, more than 1.3 million, or a fifth of total votes were thrown out due to fraud.

Some video clips and photos have emerged on social media showing polling station workers and officials stuffing ballots, but they could not be independently verified.

The vote was lauded as a success, due to high participation in the urban centres and secure areas. But the turnout was low in rural areas, which also saw a high number of attacks, according to officials.