Pakistani cricket hero-turned-politician Imran Khan led in partial results of a general election on Thursday, as the party of his jailed chief rival, ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, rejected the count as “blatantly” rigged.
With just 30 percent of the total vote counted, the Election Commission of Pakistan had Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party leading in 113 of 272 contested National Assembly constituencies.
Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was ahead in 66 constituencies, and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), led by the son of assassinated two-time prime minister Benazir Bhutto, led in 39 constituencies.
An official at the Election Commission said early on Thursday that final results had been delayed by technical failures. “There’s no conspiracy, nor any pressure in delay of the results. The delay is being caused because the result transmission system has collapsed,” secretary Babar Yaqoob told reporters.
Khan’s camp was increasingly confident of winning the election, although it still appeared likely to fall short of the 137 seats needed for a majority in the National Assembly, raising the prospect it would need to find coalition partners among smaller parties and independents.
Khan’s party spokesman, Fawad Chaudhry, tweeted “Congratulations to the nation on a new Pakistan! Prime Minister Imran Khan”, although his party has officially held off on declaring victory.
Wednesday’s voting was marred by a suicide bombing that killed 31 people near a polling station in Quetta, capital of the southwestern province of Baluchistan. Islamic State claimed responsibility.