Amid accusations of election irregularities, the preliminary results of the Afghanistan presidential election released today show a reversal of fortune for a candidate who once used a Clinton adviser for his campaign.
In May, the results of the first round of voting had former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah ahead with 45 percent of the vote, and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a former chancellor of Kabul University, World Bank official and finance minister, with 31.6 percent.
Today, the preliminary results of the June runoff were announced by Afghanistan’s election commission — putting Ghani ahead with 56.44 percent of the vote and Abdullah behind with 43.56 percent, according to Tolo News.
Turnout in the first round of voting was a little over 7 million. In the runoff, 8,109,403 ballots were cast. Out of the latter total, 62.37 percent of the voters were male and 37.63 percent were female.
Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, head of the Independent Election Commission, said they accept both fraud and technical problems occurred, including 928 polling sites that didn’t open.
“The announcement preliminary result does not mean the winner has been announced,” Nuristani said. “The investigation of votes could have impacts on the final results, so we demand the candidates and their supporters to stay calm.”
An Abdullah spokesman told Tolo News that the number of votes announced raised alarm, as they were told the ballots along with fraudulent ones numbered about the same as the first round of voting.
“We do not accept the results announced this evening by the IEC,” Mujib Rahman Rahimi told the Afghan news network. Preliminary results were announced four days later than planned, and an official final tally is due July 22.
Abdullah has accused election officials and the administration of President Karzai of orchestrating election fraud and his only route of appeal, the Electoral Complaints Commission, is run by a Karzai appointee.
After the Taliban took over, Ghani taught at UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins. After the fall of the Taliban, he returned to his home after 24 years away and became chief adviser to Karzai, receiving wide coverage in international media. Ghani ran against Karzai in 2009 yet finished fourth; he hired James Carville as a campaign consultant then. He’s for women’s rights but also supports negotiating with the Taliban if the terrorists agree to a ceasefire first.
Citing Karzai’s corruption, Abdullah, a doctor and former adviser in the Northern Alliance that battled the Taliban and al-Qaeda before the coalition invasion, ran for president in 2009 but withdrew due to the tainted election process. He has criticized Karzai’s intention of negotiating with the Taliban.
This is what Abdullah’s lead looked like after the first round of voting. Islamist candidates — Wahhabist Islamist warlord Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf and Qotbuddin Helal, a high-ranking member of the Taliban-allied insurgent group Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan — just managed to clear 10 percent.