Afghans protest over alleged poll fraud

Abdullah Abdullah leads supporters on march to president's palace to accuse incumbent of complicity.

    Afghans protest over alleged poll fraud
    Abdullah supporters also protested outside the UN office in Herat on Thursday [AP]

    Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has led several thousand demonstrators through Kabul, upping the stakes in his protest against alleged election fraud that has triggered a political crisis.

    "Death to Ashraf Ghani! Death to the election commission!" Abdullah's supporters chanted on Friday near the presidential palace as he was carried through the rowdy crowds on the roof of a truck, according to the AFP news agency.

    Abdullah rejects last week's election result, saying he was the victim of massive ballot-box stuffing in the June 14 poll, while his rival Ashraf Ghani has claimed victory by more than one million votes.

    He has also accused the incumbent president, Hamid Karzai, provincial governors and police of complicity.

    The Reuters news agency estimated at least 10,000 people were involved in the protest. Some destroyed posters of Karzai.

    It was the biggest protest since the fraud dispute erupted and the first that Abdullah attended.

    'Clean votes'

    "If our demands are not met, we will continue our protest as long as fraud votes are not separated from clean votes," said Ahmad Zia, 22, waving an Abdullah poster and the Afghan national flag.

    Afghan election chief quits over election fraud claims

    Shaperai, 55, one of the few female protesters, told AFP: "The government and the election commission have stolen our votes. They are traitors and cheats."

    The run-off pitting the former Northern Alliance leader against ex-finance minister Ashraf Ghani on June 14 has fallen into a deadlock over Abdullah's decision to drop out last week.

    The impasse has revived long-standing ethnic tensions in Afghanistan because Abdullah's base of support is with the Tajiks, the second largest ethnic group while Ghani is Pashtun, the largest group.

    The inconclusive election has left Afghanistan in limbo at a dangerous time, with the Taliban insurgency still raging, and most NATO-led forces preparing to leave the country by the end of the year.

    An agreement with Washington to allow a smaller US military presence to stay remains unsigned, as Karzai had wanted to leave it to his successor.

    The UN's top representative in Afghanistan urged Abdullah to return to the electoral process. 

    But Abdullah has appealed to the UN to intervene to salvage the election, a solution that Karzai has also backed.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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