The campaign team of Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister running against Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai for the presidency of Afghanistan, has issued a 24-hour notice to the United Nations and international observers that if changes are not made to processes in the ongoing audit of all 8 million votes cast in the second round of the election, they will back out of the election process entirely. “We will give one day to the international community to review and assure that the vote auditing and the political negotiations are moving forward properly. … If our demands are not met and the auditing not conducted legitimately and the political talks without honesty, then we will withdraw from both processes,” said Abdullah spokesman Syed Fazel Sancharaki. nThe Monday afternoon warning came a week after the team of Reform and Partnership, as Abdullah’s campaign refers to itself, backed out of the audit claiming their concerns about widespread fraud in the June 14 runoff were ignored by the United Nations.
“From the beginning we were willing to join the audit because we thought it would lead to the separation of clean and fraudulent votes. That’s what we were working toward,” Muslim Saadat, a spokesman for the Abdullah campaign, told The Times last week, after the Reform and Partnership team backed out of the audit.
If followed through, Monday’s warning would mark the fourth and presumably final time the Reform and Partnership team has backed out of the election process since the second round in June.
What sets Monday’s threat apart from prior boycotts is that for the first time since Abdullah and Ghani first pledged to form a government of national unity per the audit result, the Reform and Partnership team has threatened to walk away from the political process that was intended to be carried out in parallel with the technical audit process.