Dec. 23 (UPI) — Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani is poised to win a second five-year term at the head of the embattled country as preliminary results of its September election show he’s leading by a large margin.
The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan said Sunday that Ghani had won 923,868 votes or 50.64 percent of the vote share, well above rival chief executive Abdullah Abdullah who was in second with 720,990 votes, or 39.52 percent of the total vote.
No other candidate was able to garner 4 percent, the commission said.
The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan welcomed the results Sunday, congratulating the country’s citizens who “braved security threats to cast their votes for a better future.”
“Now, all Afghan authorities and actors must demonstrate their commitment to safeguard and complete the election, and to protect the integrity of the final stage of the process,” U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto said in a statement.
Yamamoto warned all those involved of the importance of completing the election process with care in the lead up to the final announcement and that all candidates should raise their concerns if they have any through “the appropriate mechanism and within the prescribed time.”
He also warned the IEC that it is responsible for adjudicating all complaints it receives “transparently and thoroughly so the election process may conclude in a credible manner.”
In a statement, Abdullah’s campaign said it rejected the preliminary results alleging fraud and would be lodging a complaint with the election commission.
“We would like to make it clear once again to our people, supporters, election commission and our international allies that our team will not accept the result of this fraudulent vote,” his campaign said in a statement.
John Bass, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, told Afghan citizens via Twitter that it is important to remember that the results are preliminary.
“Many steps remain before final election results are certified to ensure the Afghan people have confidence in the results,” he said. “We support the vital work of the [election commission] in adjudicating complaints before a final result is certified.”
In the days following the Sept. 28 election, both Ghani and Abdullah claimed victory.
The preliminary results from the election were delayed from its original mid-October announcement due to “technical issues,” the commission said.
With only about 1.82 million votes cast, it was the lowest turn out since 2001.