Barack Obama asks Afghan prez candidates to refrain from violence

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Washington, Jul 9: In an unusual personal intervention in a foreign election, US President Barack Obama has asked the two presidential candidates in Afghanistan's disputed polls to maintain calm and threatened to cut-off American aid if "extra-constitutional" steps are taken.

Obama made a phone call to Abdullah Abdullah Monday night and then followed it up with a call yesterday to Abdullah's rival Ashraf Ghani. Obama's intervention came after Abdullah claimed victory in Afghanistan's disputed election, blaming fraud for putting him behind in preliminary results as fears of instability and ethnic unrest mounted.

"He (Obama) reiterated that all parties should avoid steps that undermine Afghan national unity and should come together to work toward a resolution that represents the will of the Afghan people and produces a government that can bring Afghanistan together," the White House said in a readout of the phone calls made by Obama to Ghani and Abdullah.

Obama warned of severe consequences if any of the presidential candidates resorted to violence or extra constitutional measures. "He (Obama) also noted that there is no justification for resorting to violent or extra-constitutional means, which would result in the end of US assistance to Afghanistan," the White House said.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins have been working overtime to resolve the political crisis amidst serious allegations of large scale electoral fraud by the supporters of Abdullah who have called for forming a parallel government.

"The President spoke with Afghan presidential candidates Dr Ashraf Ghani this afternoon and Dr Abdullah Abdullah last night as part of our ongoing efforts to call for calm and emphasise the need for political dialogue as last month's election results are tabulated.

With both, the President stressed that the United States expects a thorough review of all reasonable allegations of fraud to ensure a credible electoral process," the White House said. Serious allegations of fraud have been raised, but they are yet to be adequately investigated, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

"So we reiterate that the preliminary results that were announced yesterday are neither final, nor authoritative, and may not even predict the final outcome, which could still change based on the findings of Afghan's electoral bodies. We continue to urge the candidates to maintain calm among their supporters," he said.

PTI

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