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Two main Afghan presidential candidates claim victory

world Updated: Aug 21, 2009 16:05 IST

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Afghanistan's election commission said on Friday that it was too early to declare victory in the presidential election as the two leading candidates both claimed themselves the winner and said no runoff would be necessary.

"No one can be declared the winner before the official result is announced by us," said Noor Mohammad Noor, spokesman for the Independent Election Commission.

The commission said it expected to release preliminary results from Thursday's election early next week, but the campaigns conducted their own tallies and began announcing those before the commission's.

"Based on information we received from our campaign offices and voting sites, I can say for sure that we are in the lead," said Haji Din Mohammad, chief of frontrunner President Hamid Karzai's campaign office.

"Our figures show that we have enough votes to win, so no need for a second round of voting," he said, referring to an election rule that a candidate must win a majority of votes to win the presidency in the first round.

Sayed Fazel Sangcharaki, spokesman for former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, Karzai's main challenger, rejected those claims as "part of their (the Karzai's camp's) propaganda."

"This claim is completely baseless because the result that we have obtained shows that Dr Abdullah got 62 percent and Hamid Karzai got 32 percent," he said, adding that the figures were provided by their observers in 30 of the country's 34 provinces.

A candidate who was ranked the third most popular candidate by opinion polls ahead of the election criticised the two frontrunners for jumping the gun.

"Those who declare themselves winners are so fond of getting power that they are violating the law," former planning minister Ramazan Bashardost said. "According to electoral law, no one can be the victor unless the commission announces so."

"The are simply making fun of themselves and the international communities who are helping this process," he charged.