Afghan poll: Run-off for Afghan election confirmed

Ashraf Ghani (left) and Abdullah Abdullah (right) Image copyright AFP
Image caption The two leading candidates will now be pitted against each other in a run-off

The Afghan election will proceed to a run-off between the two top candidates, after final results showed nobody polled more than 50% of the vote.

Abdullah Abdullah took 45% of the vote in the first round and his main opponent Ashraf Ghani polled 31.6 %. Six other candidates were eliminated.

Last week, key rival Zalmai Rassoul threw his support behind Abdullah Abdullah, boosting his campaign.

This comes as international forces prepare to leave at the end of 2014.

Dr Abdullah and Mr Ghani, will now face each other in a second round on 14 June.

Results challenge

The result was finally announced after a lengthy complaints process involving the recounting of thousands of ballot papers.

But this has not changed the standing of the two leading candidates.

Both Dr Abdullah and Mr Ghani are ex-government ministers, very well known inside and outside Afghanistan, says the BBC's David Loyn in Kabul.

But Dr Abdullah maintains that if his complaints were dealt with fairly, he would have won more than 50% - a clear victory in the first round.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Security throughout the election and at candidates' press conferences has remained tight

Millions of Afghans defied Taliban threats to take part in the first round of the election, held on 5 April.

The Taliban failed to disrupt that round but warmer weather, at the height of the so-called fighting season, would make a second round more of a security challenge, our correspondent says.

The next president will face several challenging issues, including the expected withdrawal of foreign combat troops from Afghanistan and ongoing attacks by the Taliban.