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Abdullah Demands Stoppage Of Afghan Presidential Vote Count

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah
Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has demanded a halt to vote-counting in the country because of allegations of widespread fraud and called for the UN to oversee the process.

Abdullah said he no longer trusts the Independent Election Commission (IEC) or the Electoral Complaints Commission and called on his election observers to leave their monitoring positions and stop observing the ballot-counting process.

He said preliminary figures and other evidence collected by his observers showed that massive fraud had undermined the vote-counting process.

Abdullah said that, if the counting of ballots continues, then the election will have "no legitimacy."

IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said the vote count was continuing and that national and international observers are monitoring it.

Noor said the IEC had sent written responses to complaints about the election from Abdullah's campaign.

The charges by Abdullah, who won the first round of the presidential election with 45 percent of the vote, said a "joint commission" led by the UN should continue counting votes.

A UN spokesman said it was surprised by Abdullah's statements but would continue to work "with both campaign [teams] and the [IEC], consulting with them on the way forward and we believe due process should continue."

Abdullah said that "everybody knows that unfortunately Afghan President [Hamid Karzai] is not impartial" in the election.

Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah's opponent in the runoff, has not yet commented on Abdullah's demands.

But Ghani had earlier called on all political parties to respect the ballot-counting process while it was under way.

The UN had also previously requested that Abdullah and Ghani give the IEC due time to count the ballots from the June 14 runoff election before raising serious issues.

Abdullah on June 15 said he was concerned about "engineered fraud" and questioned IEC's voter-turnout figure of 7 million, which is about 60 percent of the electorate.

Unofficial, leaked reports given to Reuters by anonymous IEC officials have shown Ghani to have a lead in the vote-counting thus far.

But an unofficial tally by Abdullah's team that was shared with Reuters showed the former foreign minister with a slight lead.

Abdullah said after losing the 2009 presidential election to Karzai that his defeat was due to ballot stuffing and other fraudulent activity.
With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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