[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Ghani leads Afghanistan presidential run-off

Ex-finance minister ahead of rival with 56.44 percent of vote in preliminary results, electoral commission says.

Last updated: 07 Jul 2014 18:55
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Ghani (left) and Abdullah have held talks in an effort to resolve the stand-off over the election results [Reuters]

Preliminary results in Afghanistan's presidential polls have put Ashraf Ghani, the country's former finance minister, in the lead, but the electoral commission has emphasised that the results are not final.

In an announcement on Monday, Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani of the Afghan presidential commission said Ghani, an ex-World Bank economist, was in the lead with 56.44 percent of the vote, while his rival Abdullah Abdullah, a former Afghan foreign minister, had 43.56 percent.

The Independent Election Commission acknowledged that vote rigging had occurred and promised to launch a more extensive investigation before final results are released after the complaints commission recounted a number of votes.

The preliminary result will include all votes from the June 14 run-off vote, with the official result scheduled for July 22 after a period for adjudication of complaints.

Al Jazeera's Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, said that the head of the elections commission had also admitted that the vote was far from perfect.

"There were some flaws to it but that's to be expected, he said, in a country like Afghanistan where security is still an issue where some polling stations couldn't be opened," she said.

"Some of the observers and even security officials, he said, were biased in favour of one candidate or the other."

Last-minute talks

Monday's announcement came after last-minute talks by the candidates in an effort to try and resolve a stand-off over the election outcome.

Ghani's camp said the two sides had agreed to audit an additional 7,100 polling stations to ensure the final result is clean but Abdullah's aides said the compromise was not final.

Both rounds of the vote to elect a successor to incumbent President Hamid Karzai have been plagued by accusations of mass fraud, and the refusal by either candidate to accept the outcome could split the fragile country along ethnic lines.

Our complete Afghanistan coverage

Abdullah, a former anti-Taliban fighter, claimed widespread fraud in the election.

He has accused Karzai of playing a role in the alleged vote-rigging in Ghani's favour and says he would accept the vote only if he saw firm evidence that fraudulent votes had been thrown out and the final result was clean.

Ghani attracts much of his support from the Pashtun tribes of the south and east, while Abdullah's loyalists are Tajiks and other northern Afghan groups - echoing the ethnic divisions of the bloody 1992 to 1996 civil war.

The dispute over the election results comes as US-led troops end their 13-year war against the Taliban, and the country faces a new era with declining civilian aid.

In a statement released after the preliminary results were announced on Monday, the US State Department said: "A full and thorough review of all reasonable allegations of irregularities is essential to ensure that the Afghan people have confidence in the integrity of the electoral process and that the new Afghan president is broadly accepted inside and outside Afghanistan."

491

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Featured
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.