Kabul: Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah publicly declared himself the winner of September’s disputed presidential elections on Tuesday night, paving the way for a perilous political standoff at a crucial moment in the country’s long-running conflict.
His statement came hours after the announcement of audited election results, which gave the election to Abdullah’s rival, Ashraf Ghani.
Abdullah rejected the audit results and argued that the election authority’s announcement of the presidential election result is ‘devoid of legitimacy’, touting it as the outcome of ‘stealing the election’, a ‘coup d’état against democracy’ and a ‘treason in the nation’s trust’.
Abdullah called on the nation to ‘resist and oppose’ the election outcome. He said that election has been fraud-riddled and those responsible for it are ‘traitors’. He hinted at inconclusive audit and recount of 300,000 controversial ballots including belated, suspicious and rigged by the election commission.
The long drawn-out official tally egregiously corresponds with the primary results published in December that declared Ghani as winner with a slim majority of 50.64% – which triggered a fierce opposition by his closest rival Abdullah who alleged vote-rigging and forced the national election commission to conduct a recount of 300,000 suspicious votes.
The delay has left Afghanistan facing a political crisis just as the United States seeks a deal with the Taliban that would allow it to withdraw troops in return for various security guarantees and a promise that the armed group would hold peace talks with the Afghan government.