Afghanistan resumes audit of presidential runoff ballots

Written by: IANS
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Kabul, Aug 3: The Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Sunday resumed the process of auditing presidential runoff poll votes after the process was suspended four times since July 17.

Afghanistan's third presidential election was held April 5 wherein Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai emerged the front runners and entered the runoff, Xinhua reported.

The runoff vote was held June 14, during which Ghani Ahmadzai secured 56.44 percent of more than eight million votes and Abdullah, who stood first in the first round, garnered 43.56 percent of the ballots.

After one week of delay, the process, which was expected to start Saturday, was postponed again to Sunday as observers from Abdullah's camp did not attend the recounting process.

Election officials said that Abdullah's observers were absent again when the auditing restarted Sunday.

"The vote auditing process starts with one hour and a half delay Sunday. The IEC decided to restart the inspecting and auditing of ballots whether Abdullah's observers attend the process or not. Ghani observers, national and international observers are present during the process now," an IEC official said.

On Saturday, an online statement released by Abdullah's team pointed out that their observers won't attend the process until negotiations with the UN and concerned parties are concluded.

Before the announcement of runoff results early last month, Abdullah rejected the outcome of the polls, accusing the IEC of committing fraud and vowed not to accept the election results unless his demands for recounting and separating the votes from the fake ones are met.

To end the election deadlock, US Secretary of State John Kerry and the UN mission began mediation between the two candidates and have persuaded them to accept the results after a vote auditing process.

Under the agreement brokered by Kerry, the candidate securing more votes will become the president and the other candidate would become chief executive.


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