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Obama Calls Afghan Candidates, Urges 'Unity' Amid Election Audit Delays

The White House says U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by telephone with Afghanistan’s two presidential candidates and urged them to “maintain national unity” amid an acrimonious and sluggish audit of the country’s June 14 presidential runoff.

The White House said in a statement that during the July 25 conversations with rival candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, Obama thanked the two men for agreeing to accept the audit of every ballot cast in the election.

The audit has been plagued by disputes and delays, and as of July 23, only around 4 percent of the ballot boxes had been examined.

Prior to the agreement to have the ballots scrutinized, Abdullah had claimed massive fraud and disputed preliminary results that gave Ghani a 1 million-vote lead, raising fears of violence.

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