Afghanistan’s election commission declared on Monday that Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a former finance minister, is in the lead to become the country's next president with more than 56 percent votes. However, rival Abdullah Abdullah has refused to accept the result until his rival is cleared of rigging the election results.
The Afghan election commission announced that Ghani had the majority vote in the run-off elections held on June 14, while only 43.6 percent people, of the total 8.1 million voters, favored Abdullah. The final results of the Afghan presidential elections will be declared on July 22, but Abdullah has claimed that about two million ballots from more than 7,000 polling stations, which produced votes favoring Ghani, were rigged and officially withdrew from the vote-counting process.
"When clean votes are separated from fraudulent votes, and from multiple votes cast by one person, then we will accept the result," Abdullah, who has also blamed outgoing President Hamid Karzai to have played a part in rigging the elections, said Monday, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Abdullah’s supporters began protests in Kabul while a party spokesperson claimed that the latest result announced by the commission was a “coup” against the Afghan people, reports said, while the election commission said the accusation of fraud would be handled by the complaints department, because the commission's role is limited to counting votes.
Ahmad Yousuf Nouristani, the commission's chairman, said, according to Associated Press, or AP: "We cannot ignore that there were technical problems and fraud that took place during the election process," adding: "We are not denying fraud in the election, some governors and Afghan government officials were involved in fraud."
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of State released a statement Monday saying that while Washington did not favor any individual candidate, claims of fraud in the electoral process is a serious matter and called for a thorough investigation. Secretary of State John Kerry also warned, according to AP, that an effort to claim power in the country through illegal means would put a stop to U.S. financial aid and security, even as most troops prepare to pull out by the end of 2014.
“These figures are not final or authoritative and may not predict the final outcome, which could still change based on the findings of the Afghan electoral bodies. Serious allegations of fraud have been raised and have yet to be adequately investigated,” Jen Psaki, the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, said in the statement, adding: “A full and thorough review of all reasonable allegations of irregularities is essential to ensure that the Afghan people have confidence in the integrity of the electoral process and that the new Afghan President is broadly accepted inside and outside Afghanistan.”
The concern now is that the country, which has already seen numerous attacks from the Taliban denouncing the elections, could become splintered if a leader is not accepted unanimously, Reuters reported.