The growing dispute over widespread fraud in the Afghan presidential election continues to escalate as Abdullah Abdullah, who according to preliminary counts is trailing Ashraf Ghani, claimed victory today, insisting he would not allow ballot stuffing to change the outcome of the vote.
Abdullah, who opposed the release of the preliminary counts until after the probe into the fraud, stopped short of attempting to form a new government as self-proclaimed president-elect.
That’s in keeping with the Obama Administration’s position, as they oppose any attempt at forming a “parallel government.” They also opposed anyone claiming victory, however, and warned against any “extra-constitutional measures.”
Abdullah was the presumptive front-runner going into the run-off, and audio tapes revealed a conspiracy among some election officials to stuff the ballot in favor of Ghani. According to the preliminary count Abdullah actually got less votes than in the first round, despite getting endorsements from the largest candidates to miss the run-off threshold.
Tensions are soaring in Afghanistan over the situation, as Abdullah is overwhelmingly popular in the north, while Ghani’s support is primarily in the area around Kandahar in the south. Both enjoy support from considerable portions of the population, and at this point no matter who wins the other will claim they had the vote “stolen” from them.
The US was seen as preferring Abdullah going into the run-off, though their primary goal, as with any Afghan election, is to spin it as having gone comparatively will in spite of evidence of overwhelming voter fraud.
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