Afghan officials are to release the final results of the first round of voting in the presidential election and a runoff between the top two candidates is widely expected.

The Independent Election Commission is scheduled to announce the results at 11 a.m. on Thursday. The second round is expected within weeks.

Preliminary results released last month show that former foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah, came in first in the April 5 balloting, with 44.9 per cent of the votes. Former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai won 31.5 per cent.

Mr. Abdullah picked up a potential election-tipping endorsement this week in Zalmai Rassoul, a former foreign minister who took 11.5 per cent in the first round.

But it’s unclear whether Mr. Rassoul can deliver the votes of his supporters, who are largely Pashtuns, the country’s largest ethnic group.