Ghani ahead of Abdullah in preliminary results
Addressing a well-attended news conference in Kabul, IEC Chairman Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani unveiled the long-awaited outcome after a five days delay. He said 8.109493 million ballots had been found valid.
The initial results showed the turnout in the second round of the election had been around 60 percent -- 38 percent of them women. Under the constitution, a candidate securing more ballots in the runoff election is declared a winner.
None of the runners could secure more than 50 percent of votes in the first round on April 5. Ahmadzai secured a total of 4485888 votes or 56.4 percent while Abdullah got 3461639 ballots of 43.6 percent in the second round.
Originally, the preliminary results were to be announced on July 2, but the announcement was delayed due to a reassessment of ballots papers from 1,930 polling stations.
Nuristani confirmed vote rigging and promised a more extensive investigation before final results were released. "We cannot ignore the technical problems and fraud during the election process. Some governors and government officials were involved in fraud."
Abdullah said that was insufficient and demanded the results be postponed until all fraud allegations were resolved.
The impasse has threatened to undermine what the U.S. and its allies had hoped would be the country's first democratic transfer of authority after President Hamid Karzai agreed to step down after two terms as legally required.
In line with the election law, after the announcement, the IEC sends the preliminary results to the complaints panel, which will take 10 days to complete the process of probing objections.
With the complaints addressed, the IEC is expected to unveil the final result on July 14. If the watchdog does not drastically alter the results, Ahmadzai will be sworn in as next president on the 5th day of Eidul Fitr.
Alleging industrial-scale fraud, Abdullah repeatedly said he would not accept the results. But the UN, the US and other major actors lobbied a lot to ensure the integrity of the election process.
Before the unconfirmed results were announced, the ex-World Bank economist and the former foreign minister held last-minute talks in an effort to break the deadlock over the outcome.
In the second round, votes from 1930 polling stations were investigated on the basis of candidate complaints, the IEC chairman said. As many as 6,427 votes cast for Ahmadzai were invalidated, compared with 4,428 for his opponent.
Following investigations, the commission nullified ballots from 50 voting sites. On the Election Day, 22,778 of the 23136 polling sites remained open, Nuristani said, explaining 579 polling stations stayed shut due to security concerns.
He hinted at a possible change in the final outcome based on the investigation of all allegations of rigging. He once again asserted the independence of IEC in taking decisions.
The Change and Continuity team, led by Ahmadzai, has accepted four of the 10 proposals floated by Abdullah’s camp. The rest are under discussion.
Nuristani admitted Afghanistan could not meet the international standards of transparency in the prevailing situation, with the IEC unable to conduct elections without support from other state institutions.
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