Afghanistan‘s presidential election has been plunged into crisis after one candidate demanded a halt to vote counting, suspended cooperation with election authorities and called for a UN commission to mediate over “blatant fraud”, The Guardian reports:
It was an unexpectedly strong challenge to an election that had initially been celebrated as a qualified success, with high turnout in both the first round and a 14 June run-off, despite Taliban threats and violence.
Former foreign minister and mujahideen doctor Abdullah Abdullah had already signalled that he was unhappy about preliminary turnout figures for the second round, and wary of large leaps in voter numbers in the strongholds of his rival Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister and World Bank technocrat.
“We call on the IEC and Abdullah Abdullah to resolve this issue as soon as possible, because as time passes the crisis deepens. If it continues this way, we might reach a point where the commissions won’t be able to resolve these problems,” Naim told DW. He also called on the IEC to take steps in order to restore trust with Abdullah Abdullah.
“In the meantime the candidates should respect the votes of the people and not take such actions that can harm the election process,” Naime said.
Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, says in a DW interview Abdullah has made a dramatic accusation while presenting no substantive evidence. In order to uphold the integrity of the electoral process, Kugelman adds, Afghan election officials probably won’t start to investigate these allegations until the vote counting process has concluded.
An election observer mission from the US-based National Democratic Institute [a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy] concluded two days after the poll that “the problems it observed did not appear to be widespread or systematic”.