By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) - Afghanistan's election commission on Monday warned the presidential hopefuls against making premature victory claims, as vote count continued in the landmark polls marred by lower turnout, technical glitches and Taliban attacks.
This came as Abdullah Abdullah, an Afghan presidential candidate, made bold claims of victory in a news conference.
Flanked by his proposed deputies, Abdullah told a news conference that he has secured enough vote to secure the minimum Constitutional requirement of 50 percent plus votes needed for victory.
"Our vote is the highest in the election, and the election will not go to a second round […] it is 2019 and I have announced, and I am reiterating that only real votes will be accepted by us," said Abdullah, who recently completed a five-year-term as chief executive in the National Unity Government with his rival candidate President Ashraf Ghani.
Immediately after Abdullah's news conference, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) warned candidates against making victory claims.
Habib-Ur-Rahman Nang, the IEC secretary, said in a televised news conference that only the election commission has the right to announce the election results.
As per the IEC, out of a total of 5,373 polling centers, the voter turnout in 3,736 polling centers counted so far was nearly 2.2 million, indicating a relatively lower turnout.
Abdullah lost the presidential polls to Hamid Karzai in 2009 and to Ghani in 2014. There has been no immediate reaction from other candidates, but the president’s aides have been making similar claims of “landslide victory”.
"Abdullah has a constant of initially claiming victory in all elections and then engage in political bargaining. This man should never be taken seriously," said Shah Hussein Murtazavi, deputy spokesman of Ghani, said in a facebook post, claiming the victory.
The landmark presidential polls, only the fourth since the fall of the Taliban in December 2001, ended on Saturday with some incidents of violence reported from across the war-torn country.
During the day, at least five people were killed and over 40 others wounded in election-related violence, security officials told Anadolu Agency.
The Taliban had warned potential voters to stay indoors and "not put themselves in danger" by coming out to vote.
The top election body will announce the preliminary poll results on Oct. 19, while final results -- in which a total of 15 candidates vied for the top seat -- will be announced on Nov. 7.
Among the front-runners are Ghani, Abdullah and former Mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.