Afghan Election audits stall, Abdullah walks out

Just 10 days after an agreement was reached to perform a full audit of Afghan ballots cast in the runoff election last month, Abdullah Abduallh walked out for a third time, claiming that audit criteria was not being adhered to. The main issue of dispute is deciding how to handle ballots from polling stations that saw a huge jump in votes cast in the June 14 runoff as compared to the April 5 first round. Both camps agreed on the need to disqualify fraudulent votes.

Head of the IEC , Yusuf Nuristani, said the audit would be suspended until after the holidy of Eid al-Fitr, which occurs at the end of the month of Ramadan, to allow time for the two sides to negotiate. While US Secretary of State John Kerry’s audit deal undoubtedly moved the election in the right direction, both sides are reluctant to cede victory and a unity government as the dispute continues is looking less and less likely. The audit is currently being monitored by hundreds of election officials, both Afghan and foreign.

The recount was suspended on Saturday over an issue on how exactly ballots would be thrown out, an issue that has been causing major disagreements. Mr. Abdullah’s group said it was worried legitimate votes were being disqualified, and are insisting on the vote disqualification procedure approved by the UN. There is still a long way to go, even if the audit does continue. Only 1,671 boxes have been reviewed out of a total of 22,800.

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