Afghanistan election dispute looms as front-runners both declare victory ahead of results

Home / Afghanistan election dispute looms as front-runners both declare victory ahead of results

The front-runners for Afghanistan’s presidency, incumbent Ashraf Ghani and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, have both declared victory, paving the way for a perilous political standoff at a crucial moment in the country’s long-running conflict. 

Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission is gathering votes from Saturday’s election. If no candidate wins more than half, a runoff vote would be held between the top two.

"Our votes are the highest in the election, and the election will not go to the second round," Mr Abdullah said at a press conference in Kabul on Monday.

Mr Ghani’s running mate Amrullah Saleh said on Sunday that the president had won a clear first-ballot victory, without offering evidence.

"The information that we have received show that 60 to 70 per cent of people voted (for) us," Mr Saleh was quoted as saying by news outlet VO.

Mr Ghani and Mr Abdullah were also the top two candidates in the last election in 2014, leading to months of turmoil as both men accused each other of fraud.

Mr Ghani's camp has claimed to have some 60 to 70 per cent of the vote, without providing any evidenceCredit:
Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

The United States finally stepped in, brokering a power-sharing deal. The chief executive of the electoral commission, Habiburrahman Nang, told a press conference that no candidate had the right to declare himself the winner before the results are tallied.

Preliminary results are not expected before October 19 and final results not until November 7.

Mr Abdullah said on Monday he would accept only votes that were filed with biometric voter verification. Problems with scanning machines had led the commission to also accept votes without scanning fingerprints.

Foreign countries that have troops in Afghanistan are wary of yet another destabilising election dispute.

It comes at a particularly delicate time following the collapse of peace talks between the Taliban and the US in early September. The extremists mounted hundreds of small-scale attacks around Saturday’s election. 

The Taliban said that low turnout for the vote – which sank to around 2.2 million from over 7 million in 2014 – underlined that the election was illegitimate and that Afghan people do not accept "foreign imported processes".

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