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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Dec 2014

World

Afghan election results delayed over fraud probe
AFP
Kabul, May 14, 2014
First Published: 16:12 IST(14/5/2014)
Last Updated: 16:25 IST(14/5/2014)

Afghanistan's presidential election result was delayed on Wednesday as authorities said they had not completed fraud investigations into the first-round vote to find a successor to Hamid Karzai.

Full results from the April 5 election were released late last month, but the final declaration will factor in the outcome of weeks of deliberation over fraud allegations.

"The final result has been delayed for an unknown number of days," Independent Election Commission spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor told AFP.

"We still have not received the ECC (Election Complaints Commission) decisions and findings. We hope we receive them as soon as possible."

In the preliminary results, none of the eight candidates appeared to have gained more than 50 percent, pointing to a second round run-off between the two top names as Afghanistan undergoes its first democratic transfer of power.

The head-to-head contest would pit former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, who took 44.9 percent of the first-round vote, against ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani, on 31.5 percent.

Karzai, who has ruled since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, is constitutionally barred from a third term in office, and the next president will lead Afghanistan into a new era as US-led combat troops withdraw by the end of the year.

Abdullah said on Wednesday that his campaign had evidence of fraudulent voting that could have a "significant impact on final results".

Afghan officials and Kabul-based diplomats say June 14 has been pencilled in for the run-off, thought it could also be delayed.

The ECC said it would deliver its report to the IEC on Wednesday.

"We finished our work last night and it is being sent to the IEC today," ECC spokesman Nader Mohseni told the Tolo News TV channel.

On Sunday, Abdullah received a major boost with the endorsement of third-placed Zalmai Rassoul, a close ally of Karzai.

Another costly, and potentially violent, election could be avoided by deal-making in the coming weeks, and Rassoul's support for Abdullah increased pressure on Ghani to concede.

Karzai has stayed publicly neutral in the election.

The United Nations' mission has welcomed Afghanistan's conduct of the vote but warned officials that they must address all fraud allegations openly.

The 2009 election, when Karzai retained power after defeating Abdullah, was marred by ballot-box stuffing in a chaotic process that shook the multinational effort to develop the country after the ousting of the Taliban regime in 2001.


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