‘Abdullah spurns US-brokered Afghan election audit’
The country’s first democratic transfer of power has been engulfed in a dispute over alleged fraud, wrecking hopes that the election would be a key achievement of the US-led military and civilian aid effort since 2001.
Instead, the battle between Abdullah, a former anti-Taliban resistance fighter, and Ashraf Ghani, an ex-World Bank economist, threatens to spark a spiral of instability as NATO troops pull out and violence increases nationwide.
After Abdullah rejected preliminary results that named Ghani as the winner, US Secretary of State John Kerry flew into Kabul three weeks ago and persuaded the two candidates to agree to the audit to sift out fraudulent votes.
But the UN-supervised process only triggered another outbreak of disagreements, and Abdullah’s campaign on Sunday refused to rejoin after repeated stoppages.
‘The commission waited on Saturday and on Sunday, but we are half through the day and Dr. Abdullah’s observers are not here,’ Noor Mohammad Noor, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) spokesman, told reporters. ‘We have decided to continue the process without any further interruptions.’ More than eight million votes were cast on polling day, but Abdullah claimed ‘industrial-scale’ fraud denied him victory.
‘Our negotiations with the UN are ongoing,’ Abdullah’s spokesman Mujib Rahman Rahimi said without giving any further details.