US urges Afghan candidates to respect election count

The United States urged Afghanistan`s presidential contenders to respect an audit of election results Monday, after candidate Abdullah Abdullah claimed that ballot-rigging had cost him victory.

AFP| Last Updated: Sep 09, 2014, 01:02 AM IST

Washington: The United States urged Afghanistan`s presidential contenders to respect an audit of election results Monday, after candidate Abdullah Abdullah claimed that ballot-rigging had cost him victory.

"Dr Abdullah has indicated consistently that he will abide by the constitution," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

"We expect the candidates and their supporters to remain committed to the process, and to the conclusion of the process."

She noted that Abdullah had called on his supporters to reject violence even though he insisted on Monday that he had won the country`s disputed election.

In a speech, Abdullah repeated claims that massive ballot-rigging had denied him victory over his rival Ashraf Ghani in the race to lead Afghanistan as US-led NATO troops withdraw from their long war against Taliban insurgents.

In a deal brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry, the feuding candidates had agreed to a UN-supervised audit of all eight million votes, and to form a national unity government together, no matter who emerged as winner.

But Abdullah, who was far behind Ghani in preliminary results from the runoff vote, has pulled out of the audit, and negotiations on the unity government have also ground to a halt.

"In our view the audit process is still ongoing under the supervision of the United Nations," Psaki told reporters.

"I think it was confirmed that part of the process has been completed, (but) there`s more that needs to be done."

She added the United States would continue to work with the candidates to see how the standoff could be resolved.

"Certainly our preference would have been to resolve this quite some time ago, but obviously we have to resolve this in the situation that we are in."