Afghan presidential candidate demands end to vote count, claims fraud

Abdullah Abdullah (shown in 2009) tweeted about the runoff election: "Fraud is taking place in every corner of the country."

Story highlights

  • Candidate Abdullah Abdullah wants vote count stopped
  • He says he is recalling his party monitors from election commission offices
  • On Twitter, Abdullah says, "this process is not transparent at all"
  • Election commission spokesman: Time for complaints is after a winner is announced

Candidate Abdullah Abdullah on Wednesday demanded an immediate halt to the counting of ballots in Afghanistan's presidential runoff election, alleging widespread fraud.

In a live news conference on Tolo TV, Abdullah said his campaign was suspending "engagement with the (election) commission" and recalling his party monitors from election commission offices.

He said there was "no way the counting could continue in the absence of (his campaign's) monitors."

Noor Mohammed Noor, a spokesman for the election commission, said the count would proceed. He said the commission could not predict whether the counting process has been successful at this stage.

Noor asked that any complaints be withheld until a winner is announced.

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The results have been scheduled to be released July 22, according to the election commission.

Abdullah, who dropped out of the presidential race in 2009 because of what he called large-scale voter fraud, took to Twitter to amplify his case for stopping this year's count, saying:

-- "It is the right of the people to defend their vote. Fraud is taking place in every corner of the country and hurting the Afghan people."

-- "Counting process should be stopped because this process is not transparent at all. I declare this as a candidate for Afghanistan's presidential election."

Saturday's runoff between Abdullah, the nation's former foreign minister, and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani was marred by violence. Afghan Deputy Interior Minister Gen. Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said 10 Afghan soldiers, 14 civilians and 19 insurgents were killed in a day that saw nearly 150 attacks throughout the country.

In the general election on April 5, Abdullah secured 45% of the vote, and Ghani was second with 31.6%. A candidate must receive more than 50% of the votes for the election to be decided without a runoff.

Although once an ally of outgoing President Hamid Karzai, Abdullah has in recent years become an opponent and vocal critic of the Taliban.

Ghani -- also a former adviser to Karzai and finance minister in his cabinet -- was once a U.S. citizen, but gave up his passport to run for the Afghan presidency in 2009.