AFGHANISTAN | Presidential candidate pulls out of election audit

One of two men vying to become the president of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, pulled his observers yesterday from an audit of the country’s disputed election over concerns of widespread fraud in a move that throws the already contentious election into further crisis.
The U.S. brokered the audit of the eight million ballots from the country’s June presidential runoff as a way to end what had been a debilitating impasse over who would take over from outgoing President Hamid Karzai. But the audit, which was announced in July, has proceeded in fits and starts as both sides have argued strenuously over every ballot.
Former Foreign Minister Abdullah is facing former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai in the election. Abdullah came in first during the first round of voting on April 5 but preliminary results from the June runoff showed Ahmadzai in the lead. That sparked accusations of rampant fraud from the Abdullah camp.
On Tuesday, Abdullah’s camp threatened to boycott the audit if their concerns over fraud were not addressed. Then yesterday, the campaign followed through on its threat and pulled observers from the recount, which is being carried out in warehouses on the edge of the capital.
“It is full of fraud,” said a spokesman for Abdullah, Fazel Sancharaki, who confirmed the decision to withdraw from the audit. “Nobody is paying attention to our demands.”
A spokesman for the United Nations in Kabul, Liam McDowall, confirmed that there had been a “temporary pause” in the audit process. AP

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