(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Former Afghan finance minister Ashraf Ghani stands to become the country's next president if his lead holds up against ex-foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah after preliminary results of the June 14 runoff election were released Monday. Ghani has 56.44 percent of the vote while Abdullah trails with 43.56 percent.
However, the Independent Election Commission emphasized that the final result could be different following "the adjudication of complaints, objections and audits."
That's what Abdullah is hoping after accusing the Ghani camp of widespread fraud, given that he garnered more votes than any other candidate during the first election last May.
Abdullah has also alleged that President Hamid Karzai rigged the election to make sure that Ghani would succeed him.
As many as three million of eight million ballots cast could be affected.
The conflict between the candidates has split along ethnic lines with Ghani a member of the majority Pashtun sect while Abdullah is supported by the Tajik minority in northern Afghanistan.
Losing would be particularly difficult for Abdullah who was set to face Karzai in a runoff following the hotly contested election in 2009 when accusations of voter fraud were leveled at the incumbent president. However, Abdullah backed out of the runoff, handing the election to Karzai.
While Afghans wait to see who succeeds Karzai, Washington is also anxious for a new leader to take power so the Bilateral Security Agreement can be signed. Without it, the U.S. will leave no residual forces in Afghanistan after 2014.
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