Afghan election candidate Abdullah rejects US-brokered poll audit
An Afghan election commission worker holds unused ballot papers during an audit of the presidential run-off votes at a counting centre in Kabul, on July 17, 2014 - by Wakil Kohsar
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 yesterday and today, 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 told AFP without giving any further details.
MORE REGIONAL NEWS
Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn
US Secretary of State John Kerry tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that US military action to counter Islamic State militants in ... More US Secretary of State John Kerry tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that US military action to counter Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria is not a repeat of the Gulf or Iraq wars of 1991 and 2003. Duration: 00:48
Date 8 mins ago, Duration 0:47, Views 0