Abdullah threatens Afghan vote audit boycott
KABUL: One of the two men vying to become Afghanistan’s next president is threatening to boycott a ballot audit from the country’s disputed presidential runoff, his adviser said Tuesday, a development that could further disrupt the already troubled process.
The complicated, UN-supervised audit of the 8 million votes from the June presidential runoff has been underway in Kabul for weeks.
The process followed allegations of vote fraud on both sides and is meant to decide whether Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, or former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai will replace President Hamid Karzai.
Abdullah is apparently concerned that the audit has allegedly failed to invalidate a sufficient number of ballots so far that would correspond to the level of vote fraud his team claims has taken place.
A top adviser for Abdullah told reporters on Tuesday that if Abdullah’s concerns are not addressed by Wednesday morning, he will pull out of the audit.
“If our demands are not accepted, we will announce the end of this process,” said Fazel Ahmad Manawi. “This process will not be acceptable to us and the result will not have any value.” Manawi said the election commission ignored their complaints about fraudulent ballots.
If the recount is halted, it would create another major political stalemate for Afghanistan. Karzai has said the new president should be sworn in on Sept. 2. Karzai’s successor is also expected to attend a NATO summit to be held next week.
The lack of new president has also held up the signing of a security agreement between the US and Afghanistan.