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A runoff likely in Afghanistan’s high-stakes presidential race

AT News

KabuL: Afghanistan’s tight presidential race is increasingly likely to go to a runoff vote amid thousands of complaints challenging the initial returns that indicated the incumbent president Ashraf Ghani had won the office, according to complaints election authorities.

With all the ballots counted including 300,000 controversial ones, state election authorities reported that Ghani was the frontrunner with more than 50% of the 1.8 million votes. Chief Executive Abdullah who had almost 39% is claiming he had garnered a significant majority of the vote but his rival Ghani had manipulated the polls and stuffed thousands of ballots including one third of his tallied vote.

According to Sputnik on Tuesday, deputy head of the independent election complaints commission Din Mohammad Azimi has said that election is highly likely to go to second round on account of magnitude of complaints. Azimi said adjudication of election complaints would take 5 weeks.

Possibility of an election runoff for the two frontrunners arises as the leading candidate Ghani is just a few thousands votes higher than the threshold 50% and complaints of fraud could reduce the votes tallied.

Another election official said in condition of anonymity that the complaints panel is likely to invalidate thousands of votes of all candidates.

After initial data were announced earlier this week, Abdullah Abdullah proclaimed himself as the winner based on ‘valid’ votes.

The high-stakes 2019 elections of Afghanistan resembles 2014 voting when Ghani and Abdullah had alleged massive vote rigging against each other. The dispute lingered on for months till the U.S. intervened and formed a unity government with Ghani as the president and Abdullah as the chief executive.

But this time, the incumbent president Ghani is strongly opposed to sharing power with Abdullah.

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