ISLAMABAD - The election deadlock in Afghanistan continues, despite last minute U.S. attempts to arrange a deal between rival presidential candidates. Partial results from the June 14 runoff vote are due Monday.
Several American lawmakers have visited Kabul in the past week to try to resolve Afghanistan's ongoing political crisis. On Sunday, U.S. Senator Carl Levin held separate talks with presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, to try to persuade them to find a way out of the impasse.
Abdullah alleges massive fraud in last month’s presidential runoff and demands the Afghan Independent Election Commission thoroughly investigates his charges.
Speaking to reporters shortly after his meeting with Senator Levin, the former Afghan foreign minister said preliminary results from the June 14 run-off should be delayed.
“What we are asking for is thorough auditing and then an announcement, a preliminary announcement afterwards,” said Abdullah.
Abdullah again claimed to have won the majority of what he called the “clean” vote in what would have been the first democratic transfer of power since U.S.-led forces ousted a Taliban-led government in 2001.
“Those who thought that they can commit fraud and they can get away with it, they are responsible for creating this stalemate. So the responsibility is not on the shoulders of the people of Afghanistan, nor on our shoulders,” said Abdullah.
Earlier, Senator Levin said both Abdullah and Ghani had assured him they would settle their differences, possibly before the preliminary results are announced.
“I was encouraged by the two presidential candidates who are prepared to move beyond the recent disputes to follow an agreed upon process for determining the election outcome,” said Levin.
The U.S. congressman said while the election commission will announce partial results Monday, he is optimistic the candidates will agree on a comprehensive audit acceptable to both sides.
“It would be truly unfortunate if the great progress which has been made in Afghanistan at the expense of so much Afghan, American and coalition blood and treasure were to be jeopardized by political fighting or a failure of political leadership,” said Levin.
Former World Bank official Ghani has warned against further delaying the announcement of preliminary results, saying it would lead to serious public doubts and mistrust about the election process and undermine the country's financial interests.
Initial results were due to be announced on July 2 but were postponed after Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission said it needed to recount votes from almost 2,000 polling stations where exceptionally high turnout surprised many observers.
Abdullah won more votes than Ghani in the first round but not enough for a majority. Ghani’s team claims he is leading the runoff round by one million votes.
The election winner is to replace Afghan President Hamid Karzai on August 2.