Hamid Karzai was moving towards victory in Afghanistan's fraud-tainted elections as the United States hit out at what it said were reports Washington wants to influence the outcome of the vote.
Incumbent Karzai widened his lead over his closest rival, Abdullah Abdullah, on Saturday as officials released the third tranche of results, totalling 35 per cent of votes cast in the country's second presidential election on August 20.
The figures gave Karzai 46.3 per cent of votes announced and Abdullah 31.4 per cent, widening his previous lead of around nine percent and apparently increasing his prospects of avoiding a second round.
The election was held under a cloud of Taliban intimidation aimed at keeping turnout low -- estimated at 30-35 per cent -- and possibly jeopardising the credibility of the results.
Counting is continuing in the presidential and provincial elections and the next results are to be announced on Monday by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), with preliminary results due September 3 and the final tally on September 17.
The time it is taking to announce the results has allowed allegations of fraud to become a focal point, not only between Karzai and Abdullah, but for Afghanistan's international backers.