On July 7, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission announced that Ashraf Ghani had won 56.44 percent of the vote, while his rival Dr. Abdullah Abdullah trailed at 43.56 percent.
Abdullah’s supporters, who have alleged frauds and ballot stuffing that favoured Ghani, called the results “a coup” against the people, and have refused to accept the results. Abdullah has alleged that as many as two million ballots were fraudulent.
A number of international actors, including the European Union, are alarmed by the allegations of fraud and the alleged collusion of the Afghanistan election officials in it.
On July 8, while the supporters of Ghani were celebrating in Kandahar, Abdullah’s backers rallied in central Kabul, claiming the results as invalid. Some supporters also accused outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai of usurping Abdullah’s legitimate victory and shouted slogans calling for his death.
International observers have expressed grave concern over the growing demand by some Abdullah supporters to form a parallel government.
At a rally, Abdullah announced he would never “accept a fraudulent government,” and claimed victory for himself. However he added that he was not interested in a civil war or division but sought national unity instead. He had previously stated that he would accept any result that was free of fraud or rigging.
The election deadlock has added to the growing crisis in Afghanistan in a year where the NATO combat troops are scheduled to leave the war-torn nation. There is also a heightened fear that the election stalemate may lead to further divisions along ethnic lines given the support base of the candidates.
Dr. Abdullah is the son of a Pashtun father and a Tajik mother, but draws his support mostly from the Tajik minority in northern Afghanistan. He was Hamid Karzai’s closest challenger in the Afghan presidential elections in 2009. An eye surgeon by training, Abdullah aided and treated a number of Afghan resistance fighter during the war with Soviet Russia.
Dr. Ghani, born in the influential Ahmadzai tribe, has large support from Pashtun tribes in the south and east. A well-respected technocrat and an academic, he has worked in various capabilities within and outside the Afghan government, including as chancellor of Kabul University in 2005 and a senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai in 2011. He has worked with the World Bank and holds a PhD in anthropology from Columbia University in the US.
Soon after the controversial election results were announced, Abdullah stated that US President Barak Obama had called him to inform that US Secretary of State John Kerry would be in Kabul on June 11 to help solve the problem.
The US has warned that it would not allow a “parallel government” in Afghanistan, and any efforts to implement it would cost the aid-dependent country the much needed international support.
Both the US and the IEC have warned that so far only the preliminary results have been declared and that the tally might change when the final official numbers come out on July 22.
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