Rivals cry foul as first results in Afghanistan vote put ex-foreign minister Abdullah ahead

 
Afghan election commission workers unload ballot boxes at the IEC (Independent Election Commission) in Kandahar on April 7, 2014. Preliminary tallies from Afghanistan's presidential election showed former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah leading in parts of Kabul on Monday, but with ballot counting likely to last weeks it was far too early to predict a winner. -- PHOTO: AFP

KABUL (Reuters) - Preliminary tallies from Afghanistan's presidential election showed former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah leading in parts of Kabul on Monday, but with ballot counting likely to last weeks it was far too early to predict a winner.

The two other frontrunners alleged serious fraud in the April 5 vote, which all being well will lead to Afghanistan's first democratic transfer of power as incumbent Hamid Karzai prepares to step down after more than 12 years in the office.

Trucks stacked with plastic ballot boxes began to trickle into the capital on Monday, as officials prepared to open a centre to tally votes from across the rugged country.

Given the United States' plan to withdraw most of its troops by the end of the year, the longer Afghanistan has to wait before a new leader is installed the greater is the risk of instability either from the Taleban insurgency, or rivalries between factions in a country riven by ethnic and tribal fault lines.

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