Updated: 07/20/2014 18:56 | By Agence France-Presse

Afghan vote audit suspended after ballot record dispute

The slow-moving audit of ballots cast in the run-off round of Afghanistan's controversial presidential election was briefly suspended by a dispute over vote count records, an electoral official said Sunday.

Afghan vote audit suspended after ballot record dispute

NATO-led Italian soldiers supervise the loading of ballot boxes for delivery to Kabul onto a plane in Herat province on July 19, 2014 - by Aref Karimi

An unspecified number of the documents, which show the overall balance of votes recorded at a polling station, were deemed void by one candidate's team as they lacked a full name and signature, according to a spokesman for the Independent Election Commission (IEC).

"The disagreement was on signatures on data forms. A candidate claimed they were not properly signed," Noor Mohammad Noor told reporters.

As a result, the audit was suspended on Saturday evening until mid-afternoon on Sunday, after which an agreement was reached, according to the IEC.

Afghanistan on Thursday began a massive audit of the 8.1 million votes ballots cast in the June 14 second round of its controversial presidential vote.

The move was agreed upon by the two rival presidential contenders, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, following a deal brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Shortly after the second round Abdullah claimed massive fraud had robbed him of victory and boycotted the vote count by withdrawing his team's observers.

The IEC official did not say which candidate had raised the issue of the disputed votes on Saturday.

With only 435 ballot boxes audited since Thursday, the audit process is expected to take weeks to finish.

The commission is supposed to process around 1,000 boxes a day, and had claimed it would finish within three weeks.

The bitter impasse over the vote to succeed President Hamid Karzai plunged Afghanistan into crisis and raised fears of a return to the ethnic violence of the 1990s.

The audit is aimed at reversing a destabilising political crisis that has threatened to widen the country's ethnic fissures as foreign troops prepare to withdraw after more than a decade of war.

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