Fraud probe may delay Afghan election results: Officials

Afghanistan`s presidential election results are due out Wednesday, but could be delayed as authorities overseeing the country`s first democratic transfer of power wade through fraud complaints after last month`s first-round vote.

AFP| Last Updated: May 14, 2014, 17:08 PM IST

Kabul: Afghanistan`s presidential election results are due out Wednesday, but could be delayed as authorities overseeing the country`s first democratic transfer of power wade through fraud complaints after last month`s first-round vote.

Full results from the April 5 election were released late last month, but the final declaration will factor in the outcome of weeks of deliberation over fraud allegations.

In the preliminary results, none of the eight candidates appeared to have gained more than 50 percent, triggering a second round run-off to choose President Hamid Karzai`s successor, scheduled for next month.

The preliminary results pointed to a head-to-head contest between former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, who took 44.9 percent of the first-round vote, with ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani, on 31.5 percent. 

A spokesman for the Independent Election Commission told AFP that a decision on whether to delay the first-round results would be made later Wednesday.

Abdullah said that his campaign had evidence of fraudulent voting that could have a "significant impact on final results".

"We hope they announce the final results on time, we also hope they review all the complaints," he told reporters Wednesday.

Afghan officials and Kabul-based diplomats say June 14 has been pencilled in for the run-off. It comes as US-led troops withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

The Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) said late Tuesday it expected to deliver its report shortly.

"If we need more time to finalise our work, it is for the sake of more transparency and to have a fair and just outcome," its spokesman told a press conference in Kabul.

On Sunday, Abdullah received a major boost with the endorsement of third-placed Zalmai Rassoul, a close ally of Karzai.
Another costly, and potentially violent, election could be avoided by deal-making in the coming weeks, and Rassoul`s support for Abdullah increased pressure on Ghani to concede.

Karzai, who is constitutionally barred from a third term in office, has stayed publicly neutral in the election.

The United Nations` mission has welcomed Afghanistan`s conduct of the vote but warned officials that they must address all fraud allegations openly.

The 2009 election, when Karzai retained power after defeating Abdullah, was marred by ballot-box stuffing in a chaotic process that shook the multinational effort to develop the country after the ousting of the Taliban regime in 2001.