A UN-supervised vote auditing in Afghanistan has been halted after presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah pulled out of the process, which is aimed at resolving a months-long dispute over election results.
On Wednesday, an official in the Independent Election Commission (IEC) confirmed that the audit process was halted and efforts were being made to resume the process.
Abdullah’s senior campaign officials dismissed the audit on the country’s eight million votes as a “joke.”
“We will not join the process today, and maybe we will not re-join the process at all,” Abdullah’s spokesman Fazel Aqa Hussain said. “Talks are ongoing with the UN. If that reaches an agreement, we will come back. If not, that is the end of it.”
Meanwhile, the UN has voiced concern over the possible spread of ethnic divisions and violence in Afghanistan.
Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, his rival, signed a joint declaration on August 8, confirming they would cooperate on forming a unity government after an audit of votes from June’s poll is completed. Both candidates claimed victory in the elections.
Based on preliminary results from the June 14 runoff, Ghani, a former World Bank economist, won the Afghan election with 56.44 percent of the votes, while Abdullah came second with 43.56 percent.
Abdullah rejected the initial results as unacceptable and fraudulent, alleging that he was the victim of “industrial-scale” ballot box stuffing, with many more votes than the voters registered in some areas.
The winner will replace Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has been in power since Washington and its allies invaded the country in 2001.