Afghan Presidential Elections Outcome: Disputes Inevitable
Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah is reported to have unilaterally withdrawn his team’s election observers from an official recount of ballots ahead of long-delayed election results.
Abdullah has claimed that the results will have no legitimacy if his team’s observers are not present during the recount by Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) Thursday announced that out 26,000 polling stations, the votes of 8,494 stations will be re-counted.
“We officially started the recounting process, our categorization is going on, our employees have been introduced, letters are signed and financial issues are cleared,” head of the Election Commission’s secretariat, Habib-Ur-Rahman Nang said.
President Ashraf Ghani, his lead contender in the election has so far not withdrawn his observers from the recounting process, but other candidates have expressed frustration with the recounting process.
Presidential candidate and Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar at a press conference on 11 November in Kabul claimed that 44 percent of the presidential election votes are not valid. “44 percent of the votes are fraudulent and are non-biometric votes, which is about 1.2 million of the votes,” Hekmatyar said. “The presidential election was full of fraud,” Hekmatyar said
The Election Support Group, or ESG, which consists of major donors to the Afghan election process, issued a statement urging political candidates to cooperate with the ongoing vote recount and called on Afghanistan’s Election Commission to “keep further delays at a minimum.” “The ESG strongly urges the IEC and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) as custodians of the votes of the Afghan people to provide accurate and timely information to the public about election results and the auditing process,” the statement said.
The ESG is comprised of the following organizations and countries: the European Union, the Governments of Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway (on behalf of the Nordic plus), the United Kingdom, the United States of America – as well as NATO and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
Preliminary election results are expected on Nov 14 however with one of the two main candidates the other being President Ghani having withdrawn from the vote count and lack of confidence that has been expressed by most other candidates in the counting process the Independent Elections Commission will be hard put to justify the outcome. On the other hand acceptability of the results by Dr Abdullah Abdullah is also doubtful if the same goes against his team. Thus a situation as in 2014 is likely to prevail.