Updated: 08/03/2014 20:55 | By Agence France-Presse

Afghan election candidate Abdullah spurns US-brokered poll audit

An audit of votes cast in Afghanistan's presidential election resumed Sunday without the backing of Abdullah Abdullah, one of the two candidates, officials said, as the fraud-tainted poll descended into further uncertainty.


Afghan election candidate Abdullah spurns 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 seen as a key achievement of the US-led military and civilian aid effort since 2001.

Instead, the contest 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 of the June 14 election, US Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Kabul 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 audit without any further interruptions."

More than eight million votes were cast on polling day, but Abdullah quickly lodged claims that "industrial-scale" fraud had denied him victory.

"Our negotiations with the UN over the audit are ongoing," his spokesman Mujib Rahman Rahimi told AFP after the audit restarted, without giving any further details.

- US stresses urgency -

The new president was to have been inaugurated on August 2, but no new date has been set -- to the growing frustration of many Afghans, the UN, NATO and foreign diplomats in Kabul.

A US State Department official said Saturday that Kerry had spoken to both Abdullah and Ghani to reiterate his support for the deal agreeing on a full audit as well as formation of a unity government after the result.

"He stressed the urgency ... of accelerating the post-election audit and implementing the political framework agreement," the official said.

The disputed result has over-shadowed earlier celebrations over the high turnout and lack of major militant attacks in both the April first-round vote and the June run-off.

Daud Sultanzoy, a spokesman for Ghani, accused Abdullah of reneging on agreements over how the audit would be conducted.

"Their demands keep changing, our negotiations have ended and we have accepted what the UN has proposed, but they want the whole process to begin again," Sultanzoy told Tolo TV news.

"If that is the case, we will also start everything from zero again."

Abdullah believes he was also cheated of power in the 2009 election when he withdrew from the run-off accusing President Hamid Karzai of systematic fraud.

Karzai, who has ruled since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, is barred from standing for a third term in office, and has stayed publicly neutral in the race to succeed him.

In a grim reflection of unrest across Afghanistan, a UN report last month revealed that civilian casualties from the conflict soared by 24 percent in the first half of 2014.

Any street unrest by the candidates' supporters would revive memories of the 1992-1996 civil war.

Abdullah draws most of his support from Tajiks and other northern Afghan groups, while Ghani's support base is mainly among the Pashtun tribes of the south and east.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。