Fri, 17 Jan 2020

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has agreed to allow a ballot recount in seven provinces where his supporters had stopped the process for nearly a month.

Abdullah, who serves as the country's chief executive in a fragile national-unity government with President Ashraf Ghani, made the announcement on December 13, insisting he wouldn't accept any election result that is 'fraudulent.'

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) tried to launch a ballot recount in November but Abdullah's supporters halted the process by shutting down election centers in seven of the country's 34 provinces, demanding that the IEC first invalidate about 300,000 'fraudulent' ballots.

'I call on the dignified people of Afghanistan to let the recount take place in seven provinces,' Abdullah told a press conference in Kabul.

'Today the conflict and problem are between fraud and transparency -- one side committed fraud and the other side wants transparency,' he said.

It wasn't immediately clear if Abdullah would send his observers to take part in the recount.

More than two months after the September 28 presidential election, preliminary results have still not been announced by election authorities, officially due to technical problems, fueling allegations of fraud and more uncertainty in the war-torn country.

The election was mired by record-low turnout and bickering between the incumbent, Ghani, and his main election rival, Abdullah.

If no candidate obtains more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be organized.

The uncertainty has raised concerns over a possible repeat of the political crisis that followed the 2014 presidential election.

At the time, Ghani and Abdullah fought a close race that sparked widespread allegations of fraud and led to a U.S.-brokered power-sharing agreement between the two rivals.

With reporting by AP, Tolo News, and AFP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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