Afghan presidential candidate hits out at election fraud

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has called for a halt to the counting of votes from the country's presidential second-round run-off because of alleged electoral fraud at June 14 polls.

At a press conference in Kabul on Wednesday, Abdullah said he is suspending all involvement with the electoral commission, pulling all of his monitors from election offices. 

“The counting process should stop immediately and if that continues, it will have no legitimacy,” said Abdullah. He said he does not trust the Afghan Independent Election Commission or the Election Complaints Commission (ECC).

“From now on, today, we announce that we have no confidence or trust in the election bodies, I call on all our observers to abandon monitoring and return to our provincial offices,” he said.

He said he has shared information and evidence about alleged widespread fraud at the June 14th polls with President Hamid Karzai and the electoral commissions but has not yet received a satisfactory answer.

Nadir Muhsini, the spokesperson for the Election Complaints Commission, said that Abdullah's statement is pre-mature.

“We were getting complaints so far and just started addressing them, so it is inappropriate by him to make such comments,” he said.

Political analysts have feared that the losing candidate will refuse to accept the defeat if there is widespread fraud during the polls.

Abdullah has also questioned the turnout of Saturday’s polls, saying that the election commission's claim that around 7 million have voted is exaggerated.

According to the two-round electoral system, a candidate must win 50 percent+1 votes in the first round in order to avoid a run-off, something none of the eight candidates achieved.

The run-off was contested by former foreign minister Abdullah and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.

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