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Abdullah ahead in Afghanistan election race

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah. Credit: Reuters

New partial results in Afghanistan's presidential election show candidate Abdullah Abdullah is still the front-runner.

The chairman of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission, Ahmad Yousuf Nouristani, announced the latest results today. They represent about half of the estimated 7 million ballots cast in the April 5 poll, though varying levels of votes have been counted in the country's 34 provinces.

The winner will replace Hamid Karzai, the only president the country has known since the 2001 US-led invasion ousted the Taliban, and will oversee a tumultuous period during which the US and Nato forces are expected to withdraw most of their troops from the country.

More: Partial results in Afghan election show tight race

Partial results in Afghan election show tight race

Election officials hold a ballot paper during the vote counting process at a polling station in Kabul April. Credit: Reuters\Tim Wimborne

Former opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah is in the lead in Afghanistan's elections.

The country's Independent Election Commission said initial results based on 10 per cent of votes from 26 out of 34 provinces showed Mr Abdullah in the lead with 41.9 percent of the vote.

In second place was Western-leaning academic Ashraf Ghani with 37.6 percent of the vote, the IEC said, while a third candidate, running with the backing of two of President Hamid Karzai's brothers, trailed far behind with 9.8 percent.

More: Afghan authorities receive over 3k reports of vote fraud

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Marine convicted of Afghan killing must wait for ruling

A Royal Marine convicted of murdering an Afghan insurgent will have to wait to find out whether his appeal has been successful.

Three judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London will now give their decision at a later date.

Sgt Alexander Blackman was found guilty by a seven-man court martial board last November and sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in jail.

Former Sergeant Alexander Blackman was found guilty of murdering an insurgent Credit: Topfoto

Lawyers for Sgt Blackman told the court the verdict should not stand because the court martial process did not demand the same level of proof as a normal criminal trial.

Anthony Berry QC also argued that the court martial board had not taken into account the "tremendous stresses" of combat which had caused Sgt Blackman "briefly to lose his head".

Read: Wife of jailed former marine says he is no murderer

Afghan authorities receive over 3k reports of vote fraud

Afghan authorities have received more than 3,000 reports of violations from last weekend's presidential election, exceeding the tally following a 2009 vote that was marred by widespread fraud.

Officials begin to counting after the presidential elections in Afghanistan. Credit: AA / TT/TT News Agency/Press Association Images

The three frontrunners have all complained of fraud in the April 5 vote mean to usher in Afghanistan's first democratic transfer of power, as Hamid Karzai prepares to step down after more than 12 years as head of state.

"As soon as we get them, it is clear the final number is going to increase," said Nader Mohseni, spokesman for the Independent Election Complaints Commission. He said around half of the 3,103 complaints registered so far would be probed because the rest had lacked the required supporting evidence.

Read: Afghan elections: Bomb kills two workers after historic vote

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Elections in Afghanistan 'led and secured by people'

NATO's Secretary General congratulated the Afghan people after millions turned out to vote in an historic election.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement: "The Afghan people can be proud of their security forces, who have done an outstanding job in securing the elections [...] This has truly been an election led by Afghans, secured by Afghans, for the future of Afghans."

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RT @usembassykabul: I commend the Afghan government, electoral bodies and the ANSF for their enormous effort to plan, secure and hold the...

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RT @usembassykabul: I congratulate the many Afghans who came out to vote in the historic election; I commend their commitment, enthusiasm...

William Hague hails Afghan election high turnout

Foreign Secretary William Hague has welcomed the high turnout for presidential elections in Afghanistan, taking place just months before the withdrawal of international troops.

Mr Hague said: "This is an historic moment for Afghanistan and its people. Across the country, millions of Afghans have been voting for a new president.

Foreign Secretary William Hague Credit: Wiktor Dabkowski/DPA/Press Association Images

"It is a great achievement for the Afghan people that so many voters, men and women, young and old, have turned out in such large numbers, despite threats of violence, to have their say in the country's future," Mr Hague added.

"Now that all the votes have been cast, I hope all parties will show patience and respect while the electoral authorities go to work to count and check the ballots, and declare the results."

Karzai hails 'success' of Afghanistan elections

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said the election was a "success" amid relief that attacks by Taliban fighters were fewer than feared, for a vote that will bring the first-ever democratic transfer of power in a country plagued by conflict for decades.

President Hamid Karzai gives address on voting day. Credit: YouTube/ ARG

In a statement after voting closed, President Karzai said: "The Afghan nation today have put in practice their big Jubilee of the nation's participation in voting.

"Despite the cold and rainy weather and possible terrorist attack, our sisters and brothers nationwide took in this election and their participation is a step forward and it is a success for Afghanistan."

Millions of Afghans 'voting with their lives' in elections

Hundreds who have turned out to vote in the Afghan elections are "literally voting with their lives", Chatham House Afghan Researcher Hameed Hakimi told ITV News.

Mr Hakimi said that the big turnout, in which an estimated seven million people came out to vote, will "help put pressure on the establishment to respond to people's expectations".

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