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  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have shared power over the past five years.

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have shared power over the past five years. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 September 2019

A Senior Independent Election Commission official Habib Rahman Nang immediately slammed the claims of victory as premature. 

Top rivals in Afghanistan's presidential election, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and President Ashraf Ghani, have both claimed victory Monday despite official counting still underway.

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Afghanistan Elections: Low Voter Turnout Amid Taliban's Threat

After the first round of voting that took place on Saturday, both camps issued statements claiming victory over the other. A Senior Independent Election Commission official Habib Rahman Nang immediately slammed the claims of victory as premature. 

"No candidate has the right to declare himself the winner," Rahman said, adding that "according to the law, it is the IEC that decides who is the winner." 

Preliminary results are not expected before Oct. 19 and final results not until Nov. 7. If no candidate gets over half of the votes, a runoff vote will be held between the two leading candidates.

"So far 3,736 of the polling stations have sent in their votes. There are still another 350 or so that have to send theirs in, and so far they say 2.1 million votes have been sent in and there’s another 500,000 to a million expected to come in in the coming days," Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley reported.

Yet this was no impediment for Abdullah to confidently affirm, without evidence, at a news conference on Monday that they “have the most votes in this election" and that “the election is not going to go to a second round."

Meanwhile, Ghani's running mate Amrullah Saleh said that the president had won a clear first-ballot victory, also with no evidence to back their claim. 

"The information that we have received show that 60 to 70 percent of people voted (for) us," Saleh was quoted by Voice of America.

The conflicting and premature claims of victory have sparked concerns of a similar impasse as it was experienced in the 2014 elections when, after a standoff in the wake of allegations of widespread fraud and corruption, a unity government was formed by the United States in which Abdullah and Ghani have shared power over the past five years.

Despite Saturday's presidential vote been the fourth since the Taliban was toppled, it was marked by low voter turnout. Early data suggest just 25 percent of the 9.6 million registered voters took part.

In 2004, turnout was recorded at 70 percent. In 2009 it dropped to around a third before reportedly doubling in the first round in 2014. 

Yet this year's figures are a result of widespread safety concerns as the Taliban threatened to attack polling stations and targeted election rallies before polling day, as they condemned all governments in Kabul as U.S. "puppet regimes."

The insurgent group argues that any commitment with the U.S.-backed government will grant it legitimacy and believes that elections will continue the U.S.' dominance of the country.

Hope for a peace deal was abruptly interrupted earlier this month after U.S. President Donald Trump decided to call off the negotiations with the Taliban saying that the deal, which had been reached in Qatar, was “dead” due to an attack that killed one U.S. soldier.

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