The results of Wednesday’s elections in Pakistan are facing delays even as Imran Khan’s party leads in more seats than any other with nearly half the votes counted. His opponents, however, claimed the counting was rigged.

Khan has not yet claimed victory but is expected to address a press conference soon, Dawn reported quoting state broadcaster PTV News. Khan’s spokesperson Naeemul Haq had earlier said Khan will address media at 2 pm “in celebration and recognition of the massive support” he got in “a contest between the forces of good and evil”.

“Technical difficulties” are causing the unprecedented delay in results, the Election Commission of Pakistan said at a press conference. The counting is now being done manually, Reuters reported, quoting Election Commission Secretary Babar Yaqoob.

“I am aware that the delay in announcement of results has caused some annoyance,” Chief Election Commissioner Muhammad Raza Khan said. “But it [Results Transmission System] was a new system and we were implementing it for the first time. Therefore, there was some delay.”

Results, which were earlier expected by 2 am, will be out as soon as possible, said Yaqoob. “There’s no conspiracy, nor any pressure in delay of the results,” Yaqoob said. “The delay is being caused because the result transmission system has collapsed.”

Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf was leading in 119 of the 272 seats of the National Assembly after 49% polling stations had been counted, according to Reuters. The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) was ahead in 61 seats and the Pakistan Peoples Party in 40 seats. The majority mark for a single party to form the government is 137.

The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) called the preliminary results an assault on democracy. Party leader Shahbaz Sharif claimed the results showed “a sheer rigging”. “The way the people’s mandate has blatantly been insulted, it is intolerable,” Shehbaz said. “We totally reject this result. It is a big shock to Pakistan’s democratic process.”

Leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, said he would reject the results over concerns of ballot rigging. “My candidates complaining polling agents have been thrown out of polling stations across the country,” he tweeted. “Inexcusable [and] outrageous.”

The elections

Voting in national and provincial elections in Pakistan was marred by violence on Wednesday.

At least 31 people were killed and over 20 injured in a suicide attack on a police convoy near a polling station in Quetta’s Eastern Bypass. A Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf worker was killedand at least two others were injured in an exchange of fire between rivals at a polling station in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Swabi. Another person was killed in firing outside a polling station in Dighri area. At least three people were injured after an explosion was reported outside a polling station in Larkana in Sindh province.

Nearly 10.6 lakh Pakistanis were eligible to cast their votes in 272 constituencies of the National Assembly and 577 in the four provincial assemblies. Around 50%-55% voter turnout was recorded, AFP reported.

Over 12,500 candidates were in the fray. This will be the country’s second democratic transfer of power.