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Afghan presidential election heads to runoff in June

By Masoud Popalzai and Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 7:01 AM EDT, Thu May 15, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • No candidate secures more than 50% of votes
  • Abdullah Abdullah will face Ashraf Ghani in a runoff next month
  • The result of the first round had to be finalized after a fraud investigation

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- No candidate won enough votes to secure outright victory in the first round of the Afghan presidential poll, the election commission said Thursday.

The election will proceed to a runoff on June 14 between former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, the two candidates who received the highest number of votes.

In the first-round, in which around 7 millions Afghans voted on April 5, Abdullah secured 45% of the vote, while Ghani got 31.6%. A candidate needs to receive more than 50% of the votes to win the first round and avoid a runoff.

Preliminary results had been announced in late April, but had to be finalized after investigations into fraud complaints.

Steve McCurry has been photographing Afghanistan's people and landscape for 35 years. His iconic portrait "Afghan Girl" has become a symbol of Middle Eastern culture and part of photographic history. The full collection of McCurry's images from Afghanistan is on display at the Beetles+Huxley gallery in London until June 7. Watch McCurry talk about his work from the country. Steve McCurry has been photographing Afghanistan's people and landscape for 35 years. His iconic portrait "Afghan Girl" has become a symbol of Middle Eastern culture and part of photographic history. The full collection of McCurry's images from Afghanistan is on display at the Beetles+Huxley gallery in London until June 7. Watch McCurry talk about his work from the country.
Steve McCurry's Afghanistan
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Photos: Steve McCurry\'s Afghanistan Photos: Steve McCurry's Afghanistan
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The final results from the runoff will be announced on July 22, the election commission said.

It's the third election since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, and is set to be the first democratic transfer of power in the fragile, war-torn country.

Abdullah was a vocal critic of the Taliban during their years in power, and although he was once an ally of incumbent President Hamid Karzai, serving in his government as foreign minister, he has in later years become an opponent.

He challenged Karzai in the 2009 election but dropped out after the first round to protest what he said was large-scale voting fraud.

Ghani is a former academic and U.S. citizen who gave up his passport to run for the Afghan presidency in 2009. He worked as an adviser to Karzai and also as finance minister in his Cabinet.

READ: Women could make the difference as Afghanistan turns out to vote

READ: Afghans flock to vote for new president despite threat of Taliban violence

CNN's Masoud Popalzai reported from Kabul, and Jethro Mullen wrote from Hong Kong.

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