The Afghan Independent Election Commission on Monday released preliminary results from the June 14 runoff showing former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai well in the lead for the presidency but said no winner could be declared because millions of ballots were being audited for fraud.
According to the preliminary results, Ahmadzai had about 4.5 million votes, or 56 percent, while Abdullah had 3.5 million votes, or 44 percent. Turnout was more than 50 percent.
That was a sharp turnaround from the first round of voting on April 5 when Abdullah garnered the most votes with 46 percent to Ahmadzai’s 31.6 percent but failed to get the majority needed to avoid a runoff vote.
Abdullah has refused to accept any results from the second round until all fraudulent ballots are invalidated.
Lurking beneath the surface is a growing fear that long-simmering ethnic tensions could erupt into violence if the crisis is not resolved.
While Abdullah is of mixed ethnicity, his core of supporters hail from the Tajik faction, a group that has long felt cut off from the top tiers of power in Afghanistan. Ahmadzai, meanwhile, owes much of his support to fellow Pashtuns, the country’s largest ethnic group, who have historically ruled the nation.
Those long-held feelings of marginalization have helped drive the current animosity felt by Abdullah’s supporters. Many say they believe their leaders will never be allowed to govern Afghanistan, regardless of vote counts.
The election commission acknowledged that vote rigging had occurred and said ballots from about 7,000 more of the nearly 23,000 polling stations would be audited.
Abdullah charged that outgoing President Hamid Karzai, Ahmadzai and the election commission were colluding against him. “They ignored us and announced the fraudulent results,” he said.
“People across the county have called on us to announce our government and I cannot say no to the people’s wish,” he said. “All of our lives we defended this country. We do not want crisis, we want national unity.”
“We are the winner of the election without any doubt,” he said.