Newspaper article International New York Times

Afghanistan Vote Again Faces Turmoil

Newspaper article International New York Times

Afghanistan Vote Again Faces Turmoil

Article excerpt

The presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah once more brought Afghanistan's troubled electoral process to the brink on Monday.

The presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah once more brought Afghanistan's troubled electoral process to the brink on Monday, insisting that he had won the disputed vote and vowing to reject any government formed on the basis of it.

An audit of 100 percent of the ballots cast in the June runoff election is expected to conclude this week, and nearly all observers expect Abdullah's opponent, Ashraf Ghani, to be declared the winner.

Mr. Abdullah's supporters have been suggesting that he form a parallel government, which Western diplomats have worried could lead to disorder or even civil war.

But Mr. Abdullah, in a speech to his top officials, running mates and supporters, and at a brief news conference afterward, made no mention of a parallel government, and did not ask his supporters to take to the streets to protest the results.

Nor did he explicitly repudiate his signature on an agreement, brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry during a visit here in August, agreeing to accept the results of the audit and cooperate in forming a national unity government, which would give key positions to the losing side as well.

"I will not accept fraud and any result from fraudulent votes," Mr. Abdullah said. "Not even for a single day will we accept a government based on fraudulent votes."

But Mr. Abdullah, a former foreign minister who was also the runner-up in the 2009 presidential election against President Hamid Karzai, did not say what concrete steps he would take if Mr. Ghani is declared the winner. While he said talks over forming a national unity government were deadlocked, he did not rule out resuming them.

On Saturday, President Obama telephoned both candidates, urging them to find a resolution to their differences. "The president emphasized the importance of concluding a deal on the national unity government as soon as possible in the interest of shoring up international support for Afghanistan and preserving Afghan stability," the White House said in a statement about the call. …

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