Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah reiterates commitment to audit outcome

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah speaks during an interview with The Associated Press. He talked about the audit of the recent disputed presidential election and agreement to resolve the dispute. (Rahmat Gul/AP)

One day after Secretary of State John F. Kerry traveled here to press for more cooperation between Afghanistan’s two presidential rivals following an inconclusive runoff election in June, Abdullah Abdullah strongly reaffirmed his commitment to accepting the results of a full ballot recount and forming a national unity government with his opponent, Ashraf Ghani.

In an interview Saturday, Abdullah said he had accepted that “we will not get absolute justice” from the arduous recount of 8.1 million ballots, but added that if the process is fair and achieves a reasonable balance between speed and credibility, that would be enough.

“We see problems every day with the audit, but we also can’t put the country at a standstill forever,” Abdullah said. “We must correct what we can and move on.” He also said that if he concludes that the audit is legitimate, “I have the ability to convince my supporters and allies of it. That will make life easier for all.”

The election process broke down after Abdullah charged it had been marred by massive fraud, but both sides agreed to a total recount and a two-year shared government after Kerry intervened in June. Shortly afterward, however, both plans foundered amid partisan disputes, and some of Abdullah’s armed supporters threatened violence if he was not declared the winner.

Ghani, who officially won the June runoff, made no public comments Saturday after publicly pledging during Kerry’s visit Friday to honor the audit and the joint-government arrangement. But several of his aides said many of his supporters were angry and concerned about what they saw as a major concession on his part. They said he spent the day in private meetings to assuage their concerns.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks as Afghan presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, center, and Abdullah Abdullah listen during a joint press conference in Kabul. (Rahmat Gul/AP)

“Some people are unhappy because they think he has sold them out and given away their votes. They don’t understand the concept of the audit,” one aide said. “Dr. Ghani’s whole focus is to keep things calm, move beyond the election and start planning for the future.”

Pamela Constable covers immigration issues and immigrant communities. A former foreign correspondent for the Post based in Kabul and New Delhi, she also reports periodically from Afghanistan and other trouble spots overseas.



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