Afghan presidential contender Abdullah Abdullah claimed victory on Tuesday in last month’s poll, despite initial results putting his rival, Ashraf Ghani, in the lead, sparking fears of ethnic unrest in Afghanistan.
Addressing a crowd of angry, defiant supporters in the Afghan capital of Kabul, Abdullah repeated his allegation that election fraud had granted Ghani a victory.
"We are proud, we respect the votes of the people, we were the winner," said Abdullah. "We will not accept a fraudulent result – not today, not tomorrow, never."
The gathering came a day after the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced initial results putting Ghani in the lead with 56.4% of the vote against Abdullah’s 43.5%.
Indications that Ghani was winning the June 14 runoff came shortly after vote counting began, prompting Abdullah to boycott the process last month. The former Afghan foreign minister rejoined the vote-counting process following the resignation of a senior election commission officer and assurances by the election commission as well as UN mediators that fraud allegations would be addressed.
FRANCE 24's Mae Jeong reports from Kabul
The latest election stalemate comes at a critical time for Afghanistan, with US combat troops set to withdraw at the end of the year.
The country’s outgoing leader, President Hamid Karzai, has refused to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement that would extend the US troop presence, sparking fears of instability in Afghanistan just as a crisis unfolds in Iraq, Washington’s other “war on terror” battle zone.
The fears of instability were underscored earlier Tuesday when a suicide attack in the eastern Afghan province of Parwan, just north of Kabul, killed at least 16 people, including four NATO soldiers.
Tuesday’s gathering of Abdullah supporters came despite a warning by US Secretary of State John Kerry that, “Any action to take power by extra-legal means will cost Afghanistan the financial and security support of the United States and the international community.”
Abdullah said Tuesday that he had received calls from Kerry as well as US President Barack Obama.
‘We don't want civil war’
Tensions have been rising across Afghanistan with both presidential candidates alleging fraud. On Monday, the two campaigns agreed to an audit of 7,000 polling stations before final results are announced later this month.
As Abdullah addressed thousands of supporters in Kabul Tuesday, some audience members tore down posters of Karzai, chanting, “Death to Karzai. Long live Abdullah.”
The longtime Afghan politician asked the crowd for patience, maintaining that he would make his decision in two days.
“We don't want partition of Afghanistan, we want to preserve national unity and the dignity of Afghanistan," he said. "We don't want civil war, we don't want a crisis. We want stability, national unity, not division."
The Abdullah campaign has maintained that inflated voter turnout in the Pashtun-dominated southern and eastern regions have given Ghani an illegal poll lead. The Ghani campaign maintains the voter turnout was due to a surge following last-minute campaigning.
Abdullah is half-Tajik, half-Pashtun, but largely viewed as an ethnic Tajik for his association with the Northern Alliance. Ghani, a former World Bank economist, is an ethnic Pashtun. Comprising around 42 percent of the population, the Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and have historically ruled the country.
Date created : 2014-07-08