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Obama Urges Calm in Afghan Presidential Election

  • VOA News

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah runs his hands through his hair as he pauses in addressing his supporters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, July 8, 2014.

President Barack Obama has called the two candidates in Afghanistan's disputed presidential runoff election to ask them to let the process for investigating fraud claims go forward.

In those phone calls, Obama warned Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani that violence or taking "extra-constitutional measures" would result in the end of U.S. assistance to the war-torn country.

Secretary of State John Kerry is to visit Kabul on Friday in an effort to resolve allegations of fraud in the June 14 run-off election. Initial results have Abdullah losing to Ghani by 1 million votes.

But Abdullah said Tuesday that he is the winner "without any doubt," and vowed to never accept what he called a "fraudulent government." He said he would wait to meet with Kerry before taking action.

Some of Abdullah's supporters, including one of his running mates, have threatened to form a "parallel government," drawing a sharp condemnation by U.S. officials and fears of further instability.

Abdullah has for weeks claimed the vote was marred by fraud, but he stepped up his allegations this week after the early results of the election were released.

The preliminary results were unveiled Monday, despite the objection of U.S. officials. The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, James Dobbins, told VOA this week that Washington believes the move was premature.

"We were disappointed that the announcement didn't also include an agreement on a set of further audit measures that need to be taken to address substantial allegations of fraud that have been made by both campaigns. We would have preferred that the announcement be postponed until there was agreement on those further audit measures. There are several million ballots that still need to be carefully examined, so we're not sure what the point was in announcing a result when you still have that much work to do," said Dobbins.

Kerry warned on Tuesday that "any action to take power by extra-legal means will cost Afghanistan" U.S. and international financial and security support.

The unrest comes as NATO soldiers are preparing to end their more than a decade-long combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of the year.

Thousands of U.S. troops are expected to stay behind if a deal can be reached between Washington and Kabul.