Afghan President Hamid Karzai won 54 percent of the preliminary vote
count released Wednesday, but his victory is not secure until fraud
allegations are investigated.
The figures announced by Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission showed Mr. Karzai won more than 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff (, with 3,093,256 ballots). His main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, secured roughly 28 percent of the vote (1,571,581 ballots).
The commission's chief electoral officer (Daoud Ali Najafi) saidturnout for the August 20 presidential vote was 38 percent, with the threat of Taliban attacks keeping many Afghans away from the polls.
The results are not final until they have been approved by the United Nations-backed Electoral Complaints Commission. That body has ordered a partial recount, which could delay the official outcome for weeks.
Earlier Wednesday, the European Union election observer mission in Afghanistan said it had counted 1.5 million suspicious votes from last month's presidential election. That amounts to nearly one-third of the total votes cast.
The EU says these include 1.1 million suspicious votes for Mr. Karzai and 300,000 for Mr. Abdullah.
Mr. Karzai's campaign team quickly issued a statement dismissing the EU monitors' announcement as "partial, irresponsible and in contradiction with Afghanistan's constitution."
It said it is up to the U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission to address such issues, not international monitors. Najafi also accused the EU of interfering.
The head of the EU observer team, Phillippe Morillon, says the Karzai campaign should refrain from declaring victory until the results are authenticated.
A spokesman for Abdullah (Fazal Sancharaki) welcomed the EU monitors' announcement.
A U.S. State Department spokesman (Ian Kelly) emphasized that Wednesday's results were preliminary and not final, and also urged patience until the votes are certified.
The U.S. embassy in Kabul issued a statement noting election officials are still investigating fraud allegations.