Ghani declared comfortable winner in disputed Afghan election

news
26 September 2014

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai today won Afghanistan's disputed presidential election decisively with 55 per cent of the vote, after the figure was kept secret for five days over concerns that fraud allegations could trigger violence.

''The Election Commission on Friday presented Ghani with an accreditation, endorsing his win in the race, that said that he had secured 55.27 per cent of total votes,'' spokesman Noor Mohammad said.

The news comes five days after Ghani agreed to form a national unity government with his former rival Abdullah Abdullah.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said Ghani received 3.9 million out of the total 7.1 million votes cast in the 14 June run-off, confirming that widespread fraud had occurred.

The unity government deal signed on Monday means Ghani would be the next President, while Abdullah will take on the newly-created role of chief executive, broadly equivalent to prime minister.

Ghani and Abdullah both claimed victory in the 14 June run-off vote, tipping the country into a political crisis that the United Nations feared could descend into the ethnic unrest of the 1990s civil war. A "unity government" deal was finally agreed on Sunday.

The IEC had earlier declared Ghani the winner, but did not reveal the margin of victory or the turnout to avoid stoking bitter resentment among Abdullah's supporters who believed he won fairly.

At an IEC ceremony on Friday, Ghani was presented with a certificate that confirmed he had won 55.27 per cent of the ballot on a turnout of 7.12 million voters.

Ghani hailed the unity government as a turning point for Afghanistan as US-led combat troops wind down their 13-year war against the Taliban.

Ghani, an anthropologist and economist, worked with the World Bank before returning to Afghanistan in 2002, to take up the job of finance minister after the collapse of the Taliban government.

"The political transition was a success for the nation and we can move forward," he said after accepting the certificate.

"We call for investors to come to Afghanistan."

The election was marred by widespread fraud, repeating serious problems seen in previous elections since the Taliban regime was ousted from power in 2001.

After the UN-supervised audit, 1,206 of the 22,828 ballot boxes were invalidated - meaning several hundred thousand votes were thrown out.

Ghani said he would prioritise electoral reform to improve future elections, and thanked outgoing President Hamid Karzai, who has ruled since the fall of the Taliban.

Ghani will be inaugurated in Kabul on Monday in Afghanistan's first democratic transfer of power.





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