Ex-cricket star Imran Khan has taken an early lead as votes are counted in Pakistan’s poll, but political rivals allege vote-rigging on a major scale.
Early unofficial results suggest his PTI party are in the lead, but it will need to form a coalition if it is unable to secure a simple majority.
Results are trickling in slowly, but election officials deny rigging saying there are simply technical problems. Voting day saw bloodshed, with many killed in a blast at a polling station. This historic election will mark only the second time that a civilian government has handed power to another after serving a full term in Pakistan.
With 42 per cent of polling stations counted, the Election Commission of Pakistan had Mr Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party leading in 113 of 272 contested National Assembly constituencies, according to Pakistan’s Dawn Newspaper.
Why does this election matter?
Pakistan has a population of nearly 200 million, and is a nuclear-armed rival to India, a key developing economy and one of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nations.
The country has been ruled on and off by the military during its 71-year history, so this election is significant because it is considered the country’s second consecutive democratic transition.