Seeking to avoid an international crisis, President Barack Obama has asked the trailing candidate in Afghanistan’s disputed presidential election to stay engaged, allow the process for investigating claims of electoral fraud to go forward and avoid any violent or “extra-constitutional measures,” a White House spokesman said Tuesday.
Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah told thousands of supporters on Monday that he will declare victory, claiming that massive fraud was behind preliminary results from a June 14 runoff vote that put him far behind rival Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.
Obama spoke with Abdullah on Monday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
“He made clear, as we have been saying publicly, that we expect a thorough review of all reasonable allegations of fraud and that there is no justification for resorting to violent or extra-constitutional measures,” Earnest said. He said the administration has been clear that such moves would jeopardize U.S. financial and security assistance to Afghanistan.
Earnest said serious allegations of fraud have been raised and have yet to be adequately investigated.
“The preliminary results are not final or authoritative and may not predict the final outcome,” he said.
The Afghan Independent Election Commission released preliminary election results Monday showing Ahmadzai well in the lead but said no winner could be declared because millions of ballots were being audited for fraud. Ahmadzai had about 56 per cent of the vote to Abdullah’s 44 per cent.
The results announced Monday marked a sharp turnaround from the first round of voting on April 5, when Abdullah garnered the most votes with 46 per cent to Ahmadzai’s 31.6 per cent. But Abdullah failed to win the majority needed to avoid last month’s runoff.
Abdullah has refused to accept any second-round results until all fraudulent ballots are invalidated. Some of his supporters have raised the idea of a “parallel government.”
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Tuesday that the fraud allegations were concerning. He urged both sides to work with Afghanistan’s electoral authorities “to find a solution that ensures a credible outcome of the presidential election.”
Rasmussen commented after an Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama during which they discussed planning for an upcoming NATO summit in Wales in September, Ukraine and Afghanistan, among other topics. It was Rasmussen’s final visit to the White House before he steps down later this year as head of the international military alliance.
Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday while visiting Tokyo that suggestions in Afghanistan of a parallel government were a grave concern and that there was no justification for violence or threats of illegal action, saying such moves would lead to the end of U.S. financial and security support.
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