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News Analysis: Vote audit delay to prolong Afghan political impasse

English.news.cn   2014-08-07 10:45:56

by Haleem

KABUL, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Despite the assurance by the Afghan Election Commission that the audit of votes in the presidential runoff is on schedule it is still uncertain as to when the commission can finally proclaim the winner in the April 5 elections.

Commission spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said on Wednesday that the ongoing vote auditing process is on track and will be completed soon. A day earlier Noor said the process would be finished in three weeks.

According to Noor, all the 22,828 ballot boxes from across the country have already been brought to the central office of the election commission and so far 3,448 ballot boxes have been audited.

Keeping in mind the slow process of the allegedly fraudulent elections most Afghans still doubt whether the commission can complete its audit within three weeks as promised.

"The recounting and auditing of votes is moving on a snail's pace, so I am sure that it will take several weeks, if not months, for the commission to announce the election result," Kabul University student Mohammad Hamayon told Xinhua.

Afghanistan's third presidential elections since the collapse of Taliban regime in late 2001 was held on April 5 and since none of the eight candidates on the race secured more than 50 percent of the votes, a runoff was conducted between two front-runners Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai on June 14.

According to the law, the new president would have taken power from the outgoing Hamid Karzai before May 22, but because of the failure of any candidate to garner more than 50 percent of the votes Karzai has to remain in office in a holdover capacity.

Abdullah, who bagged majority of the votes in April 5 presidential polls but lost to Ghani Ahmadzai in the second round balloting, had accused the election commission of having been involved in a fraud favoring his opponent and demanded an auditing of the votes.

With the mediation of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U. N. Secretary General's special envoy to Afghanistan Jan Kubis, both candidates agreed to a recount and audit of votes.

Since resuming vote recounting and auditing the ballot boxes by the election commission on July 17, more than 3,400 ballot boxes have been audited.

Election Commission Chairman Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani himself has promised to complete the auditing process within three to four weeks but no sign of completion is on sight.

The auditing process has been suspended at least five times since July 17 because of some technical problems, including the non-appearance of representatives from the two contending candidates. On Wednesday the auditing process resumed 40 minutes later than scheduled.

Observers from both the presidential candidates even clashed with each other and some of them were physically beaten during a scuffle on Wednesday.

Under John Kerry's brokered agreement, there is no loser in the Afghan presidential elections since the one who gets the most number of votes will become president and the loser will assume the post of prime minister after the two agreed to form a unity government.

"We are against anyone who will hostage the election process," Daud Sultanzoi, a senior member of Ghani Ahmadzai, said in a television discussion Tuesday, while referring to rival team's demands for thorough auditing of the votes.

Ahmadzai said that his candidate enjoyed the support of 70 percent of the people of Afghanistan.

But Sardar Rahman Oghlo, a member of Abdullah's team, said in a local television interview that the Afghan people voted for his candidate as shown in the result of the first balloting.

"The audit process should remove the fake votes to validate our victory," he said. With rhetoric like this coming from the two sides, it is no wonder that the vote recounting would take a little more time and prolong the political uncertainty in a country already wracked by violence and terror attacks by the Taliban.

Editor: An
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