One of the two men vying to become Afghanistan’s next president has threatened to boycott a ballot audit from the country’s disputed presidential runoff, his adviser said, a development that could further disrupt the already troubled process.
The audit of all eight million votes was halted on Wednesday when Abdullah Abdullah’s observers refused to participate – despite a US-brokered deal in which both sides vowed to support the recount and respect its outcome.
“We will not join the process today, and maybe we will not re-join the process at all,” Fazel Aqa Hussain Sancharaki, a spokesman for the Abdullah campaign, told the AFP news agency.
“Talks are ongoing with the UN. If that reaches an agreement, we will come back. If not, that is the end of it.”
The process followed allegations of vote fraud on both sides and is meant to decide whether Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, or former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai will replace President Hamid Karzai.
Abdullah has said that the audit has failed to invalidate a sufficient number of ballots so far that would correspond to the level of vote fraud his team claims has taken place.
Recount ‘to proceed anyway’
Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, said the United Nations and the Independent Election Commission have announced that the recount process would continue on Wednesday without the representation of either rival candidates.
“They have asked Ashraf Ghani’s supporters to leave the election commission so that they continue the count in the presence of only international observers and supervisors of the United Nations,” said Glasse.
“But there is still a question whether Abdullah’s supporters will accept any results at all.”
Karzai has said the new president should be sworn in on September 2.
The lack of a new president has held up the signing of a security agreement between the US and Afghanistan to allow its troops to stay in the country past the end of this year, when foreign forces are due to withdraw.
Both candidates have promised to sign the agreement, which Karzai refused to sign.