Night Watch

Afghanistan: Today the election commission announced the preliminary results from the run-off election on 14 June. The officials said 8 million people voted, from a pool of 13.5 million registered voters.

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai obtained 4,485,888 votes, which represents 56.4% of the votes.

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah obtained 3,461,639 votes which represents 43.6% of the ballots cast.

The head of the election commission, Nuristani, cautioned that the results are preliminary and do not signify that a party is the winner. He advised against celebrations and warned that the result could change.

He also confirmed that vote rigging occurred. He said, "We cannot ignore the technical problems and fraud during the election process. Some governors and government officials were involved in fraud."

He promised a more extensive investigation before the final results are announced. Final results are scheduled to be announced on 22 July.

Abdullah's reaction. A spokesman for Dr. Abdullah's National Coalition said the Coalition rejected the preliminary results because they include ballots that the commission knows are fraudulent. Abdullah has filed complaints about fraud occurring at 7,000 of the 23,000 polling places. His spokesman called the results a coup against the voters of Afghanistan.

Comment: The results do not look credible for multiple reasons. The election commission admitted it was surprised by the number of ballots cast in the run-off because the turnout was higher than the commission estimated. In fact, 2 million more votes were cast in the run-off than in the first round. That is a counter-intuitive result that signifies voter fraud.

Ashraf Ghani is the candidate of the Pashtuns and Uzbeks. His vice presidential candidate is the famous Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum. In the first election he obtained just over 2 million votes which represented 31.5 % of the ballots. He carried 9 of the 34 provinces, based on Pashtun and Uzbek participation. In some of those nine provinces in the south, fewer than 11,000 people voted. Pashtun voter turnout was low, which is normal for Pashtuns.

Abdullah is the candidate of the north, including Tajiks, Hazaras, Panjshiris and smaller tribes. He polled 2.9 million votes, or 45% of the total ballots. He carried 15 provinces, most by a wide margin over Ghani.

Night Watch

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