Newspaper article International New York Times

Disputes Threaten to Halt Audit of Afghanistan Vote ; Process Nearly Collapses as a Karzai Vice President Is Accused of Aiding Fraud

Newspaper article International New York Times

Disputes Threaten to Halt Audit of Afghanistan Vote ; Process Nearly Collapses as a Karzai Vice President Is Accused of Aiding Fraud

Article excerpt

The review of the presidential election runoff came close to collapse as the candidates argued over the technicalities of how to invalidate fraudulent ballots.

Wrangling over Afghan election results is continuing as campaign aides of the presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah accused one of President Hamid Karzai's vice presidents of involvement in fraud in a runoff vote that they say was stacked against Mr. Abdullah.

Three weeks after Secretary of State John Kerry brokered a deal to impose an internationally monitored audit of the June 14 vote, the process came close to collapse over the weekend. The audit had been suspended for a week during the Muslim festival of Eid al- Fitr, and the campaign teams of Mr. Abdullah and his opponent, Ashraf Ghani, argued through the weekend over the technicalities of how to invalidate fraudulent ballots.

The United Nations, which is assisting with the audit, and the Afghan Independent Election Commission announced a decision on the criteria for invalidating votes and tried to resume the audit on Sunday, but Mr. Abdullah's team refused to participate, citing further objections to the criteria. Mr. Kerry made phone calls to both candidates on Friday, with little apparent progress.

Also on Sunday, Mr. Abdullah's campaign manager released an audiotape on which he said Vice President Karim Khalili could be heard directing his followers to support Mr. Ghani in the runoff. An aide to Mr. Khalili has denounced the tape as fake, according to the independent television news channel Tolo TV.

In the tape the speaker, who sounded like Mr. Khalili but had not been independently verified as such, said that the international community, the election commission and the president all supported Mr. Ghani for president. He even suggested that Afghanistan's allies would tolerate the use of any means to achieve such a result. …

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