Afghanistan: Vote Audit Finished, Results Uncertain

An external audit of votes cast during Afghanistan’s presidential elections has finally been completed. The audit, which took into consideration an estimated 8 million suspicious ballots, took nearly seven weeks and was the source of much conflict throughout. Both leading candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, abandoned the audit the its neared its completion, albeit for different reasons. Abdullah walked away from the audit due to the UN-sponsored audit team’s refusal to meet a series of demands imposed by the Abdullah campaign, while Ghani left at the UN’s insistence, in order to avoid the perception of partiality.

While the Afghan IEC did confirm the termination of the audit process this past week, it is still unclear when the results will be released, or how power will ultimately be divided. Current President Hamid Karzai has pleaded for both candidates to collaborate and quickly establish who will end up as the country’s chief executive, a neutral position created to satisfy both candidates. The candidates recently communicated a message suggesting that they will form a “unity government” that will see the two share power, though previous plans spearheaded by US Secretary of State John Kerry were dismissed by both candidates.  The two candidates are expected to release a statement sometime today or at another point early this week that details the results of the elections, though problems could still arise, as recent reports suggest that Abdullah has been urged by supporters to refrain from ceding support to individuals allied with Ghani.

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