Abdullah Abdullah has claimed victory in the Afghan presidential elections despite the results showing a lead for his rival Ashraf Ghani.

Preliminary results of the 16 June run-off election gave Ghani 56.44% of the vote to Abdullah’s 43.56%, a poorer showing for Abdullah than in the previous round where he only just missed an outright majority and had a double-digit lead.

Abdullah repeated claims that the elections were marred by fraud and rather than accept the results pointing to a Ghani victory, he and his supporters have declared victory.

The candidate has rallied support from warlords, regional elders, and other influential figures and made clear in a speech in Kabul that he would never accept a “fraudulent government”.

US Secretary of State John Kerry previously warned of Abdullah setting up a “parallel government”, saying:

“We call on all Afghan leaders to maintain calm in order to preserve the gains of the last decade and maintain the trust of the Afghan people. Any action to take power by extra-legal means will cost Afghanistan the financial and security support of the United States and the international community.”

Tensions remain high in the country as the population await the final results of the election, which are due on 22 July.

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