Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani has rejected allegations of electoral fraud that have pushed the country into a political crisis, saying all ballots cast for him are legitimate.
In his first speech since allegations of fake votes surfaced, Ghani told supporters in Kabul, "Our votes are clean, and we will defend each vote."
Zia-ul-Haq Amirkhail, Afghanistan's chief electoral officer, resigned from his post on June 23 after candidate Abdullah Abdullah accused Amirkhail of rigging results of the June 14 runoff vote in favor of Ghani.
The dispute caused a rise in hate speech on Afghan social media, prompting parliamentary debate and a UN warning against "divisive ethnic mobilization" and "rhetoric that brings back memories of tragic, fratricidal, factional conflicts in the 1990s."
Amirkhail and Ghani are Pashtuns.
Abdullah is from an ethnic Tajik faction that opposed the Taliban regime.