Abdullah Seeks Afghan Presidential Vote-Count Halt on Fraud

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah accused election officials of fraud and demanded they stop counting votes, threatening to disrupt the first democratic transfer of power since the 2001 U.S. invasion.

He accused President Hamid Karzai of intervening in the June 14 runoff and said the turnout of more than 7 million voters announced by the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan is “not legitimate” because ballot boxes were stuffed in favor of opponent Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.

“I believe in elections but I don’t trust the way it is conducted by the IEC and ECC,” Abdullah said, referring to the election body and the Electoral Complaints Commission. “There is no legitimacy over the counting process and if counting continues we won’t accept it and we won’t accept its result.”

Abdullah has accused Ziaulhaq Amarkhil, a senior official of the IEC, of electoral fraud and sought his removal. Poll commission chief Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani has rejected the allegations of fraud.

The vote count will continue in the presence of local and international observers, ToloNews reported today, citing Nuristani. He also said Karzai would be the one to decide on whether to suspend Amarkhil, according to the report.

The ECC has received more than 2,000 complaints from candidates and voters, spokesman Nadir Muhseni told reporters yesterday. Those that are upheld could affect the outcome of the elections, he said.

“Abdullah Abdullah suspending cooperation with the IEC came as a surprise,” Agence France-Presse reported citing U.N. mission spokesman Ari Gaitanis. “We regret this step, and at the same time we will keep working with both campaigns and the election commission.”

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