Abdullah Abdullah, presidential candidate seeking to take longtime President Hamid Karzai’s spot, has demanded ballot counting be halted, alleging voter fraud. But the Electoral Commission has rejected his demand.
Former Afghan Foreign Minister and contender for the Afghan presidency, Abdullah Abdullah, broke off ties with the country’s election commission on Wednesday, saying that numbers from a recent run-off vote didn’t add up.
“We announce that we have no confidence or trust in the election bodies,” Abdullah told reporters at a press conference, saying he had asked his observers to leave the counting process.
“The counting process should stop immediately and if that continues, it will have no legitimacy,” he said.
According to Abdullah, the election commission’s count of seven million votes was suspiciously higher than what would have been proportionate to the “population of [Afghanistan], let alone the security situation.” He estimated that only five million of the country’s 12 million registered voters could have cast ballots.
The 53-year-old faced off against opponent and former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani in a run-off election on Sunday. During the first round of voting, Abdullah secured 45 percent and Ghani 31 percent, both falling short of the majority needed to win outright.
Ghani called the allegations by Abdullah “disrespectful to the citizens who, despite all threats and problems, went to cast their votes.”
Electoral Commission rejects accusation
Afghanistan’s election commission responded promptly to Abdullah’s demands on Wednesday, however, rejecting them.
“We are counting the ballots in the presence of local and international observers,” commission spokesperson Noor Mohammad Noor said.
“The process will not be stopped, this is the Independent Election Commission’s decision,” he added.
“We have a code of conduct for both candidates, we hope they both will obey that code.”
Preliminary results are expected to be published on July 2, with official results to be released by July 22.
The winner of the election will take the helm of a country looking to take more control of its own affairs, with NATO troops that have been stationed in the country for over ten years set to leave by the end of 2014. Despite US-led forces toppling the Taliban in 2001, Taliban militants are still a threat to peace and security in Afghanistan.
kms/jm (AP, AFP, dpa)