Afghan elections: Ashraf Ghani set for victory after preliminary results

Afghan elections: Ashraf Ghani set for victory after preliminary results
Afghan elections: Ashraf Ghani set for victory after preliminary results

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Results

Ashraf Ghani 50.64 per cent

Abdullah Abdullah 39.52 per cent

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar 3.85 per cent

Rahmatullah Nabil 1.8 per cent

Long-delayed preliminary results from Afghanistan's election in September showed that President Ashraf Ghani had come first with 50.64 per cent of the vote.

Mr Ghani won 923,868 votes while Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah polled second with 720,990 votes or 39.52 per cent. He immediately vowed to challenge the tally.

The election commission on Sunday announced the preliminary results almost three months after Afghans voted in presidential polls that were marred by low turnout and fraud claims.

The eligible cast ballots were only 1.82 million out of 9.6 million registered voters, the country's lowest election turnout. Nearly one million of the initial 2.7 million votes were purged owing to irregularities.

The head of the Independent Election Commission, Hawa Alam Nuristani, did not say when the final results would be released. Candidates now have a few days to file any complaints before final results are announced, probably within weeks.

There also won’t be any decision on whether a second round of voting is needed until the final results are out, and Mr Ghani’s lead is secure.

Afghanistan’s election laws say a run-off must take place if no candidate wins over half of the votes.

The preliminary results were originally due on October 17 and the final tally on November 7 but were repeatedly delayed.

The election commission tried to launch a ballot recount in November but Mr Abdullah halted the attempt, saying he wouldn’t let his observers participate. He eventually allowed a recount to go forward earlier this month.

Thousands of Mr Abdullah’s supporters rallied in November against what they said was the presence of faked ballots. The controversial recount had seemed set to favour Mr Ghani.

Haji Khalil Daresufi, a close aide of Mohammad Mohaqiq, Mr Abdullah’s running mate, told The National that his team would “fight for every vote that was cast in our favour” and said the IEC “showed to the people of Afghanistan their lack of independence".

“This result is based on fraudulent numbers and ... it is not acceptable to us,” Mr Mohaqiq said.

“We will take action through transparent methods … We will not let anyone to play with the true mandate of the people, or damage it with their unclean votes.”

The election was meant to be the cleanest yet in Afghanistan's young democracy, with a German firm supplying biometric machines to stop people from voting more than once.

Mr Mohaqiq said that the party would not accept the counting of ballots not verified by the biometric machines.

“The 50.64 per cent that the 'state builder' team received is, of course, based on fraud votes,” he said. “We will file our complain to IEC and we expect them to be transparent.”

The 2014 presidential election was mired in accusations of widespread fraud. That led the United States to cobble together a unity government between Mr Ghani and Mr Abdullah, the two leading contenders. Their partnership has been fraught with bickering and rifts.

It’s not clear how the Taliban will respond to Mr Ghani’s win.

The protracted limbo has heaped additional uncertainty on Afghans who are anxiously awaiting the outcome of talks between the US and the Taliban.

Mr Ghani demanded a ceasefire before engaging in talks, something the Taliban has steadfastly rejected.

The Taliban hold sway over half the country.

The election was largely seen as a two-horse race between Mr Ghani and Mr Abdullah.

Now that the preliminary results have been released, candidates can lodge their complaints before a final result is published.

A United Nations official said Afghanis had braved security threats to cast their votes and deserved to be commended for carrying out their civic duty.

"Now, all Afghan authorities and actors must demonstrate their commitment to safeguard and complete the election, and to protect the integrity of the final stage of the process,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said.

He said the decisions of the electoral management bodies – the IEC and the Electoral Complaints Commission – in the final stage of the process must have clear legal and technical justifications and should be explained to the people of Afghanistan.

“All candidates have the chance to raise any concerns they may have through the appropriate mechanism and within the prescribed time,” he said.

“At the same time, the [ECC] has an obligation to adjudicate any complaints it receives transparently and thoroughly so the election process may conclude in a credible manner.”

US Ambassador John Bass said “many steps remain before final election results are certified, to ensure the Afghan people have confidence in the results".

Updated: December 22, 2019 04:03 PM

Results

Ashraf Ghani 50.64 per cent

Abdullah Abdullah 39.52 per cent

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar 3.85 per cent

Rahmatullah Nabil 1.8 per cent

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