Afghanistan’s incumbent president wins election, disgruntled rival rejects result, again

Afghanistan’s incumbent President Ashraf Ghani has won the country's presidential election with a slim majority.

Delayed preliminary results from the September 28 election showed on Sunday that Ghani had won the election with 50.64% of the votes.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the total number of votes counted in the presidential election had been 1.9 million, which is a low turnout given the 9.7 million registered voters. Initially, 2.7 million votes had been cast, but nearly one million of them were declared null because of irregularities.

IEC head Hawa Alam Nuristani said the result could change after the final count and was subject to a review by the election complaints commission.

Head of the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) Hawa Alam Nuristani (L) announces the preliminary presidential election results during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 22, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Ghani’s only real rival is Abdullah Abdullah, who currently shares power with him in the form of a unity government.

Abdullah, who finished second with 39.52% of the vote, according to the IEC, has rejected the results.

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah gestures as he speaks during an interview with AFP at the Sapedar Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, on November 5, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

In a statement on Sunday, Abdullah’s office said he did not accept the results.

“The result that stands is based on fraud and without considering our legitimate demands, will never be accepted,” it said.

Abdullah, who unsuccessfully ran in the two previous presidential elections, has repeatedly raised questions about the validity of hundreds of thousands of votes.

Last week, Abdullah agreed to a recount but warned that he would not accept what he called a tainted result.

The election was meant to be the cleanest in Afghanistan’s young democracy, with a German firm supplying biometric machines that were supposed to stop people from voting more than once.

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