Ashraf Ghani believes he has won Afghanistan’s heavily contested presidential election by more than 1.3 million votes, according to data compiled by his campaign team. Ghani said the vocal support of clerics, a higher turnout of women, a series of televised town-hall style meetings and polling day transport for potential voters enabled him to pick up support from more than 2 million extra voters in the second round of the poll. “One of the reasons, the most significant, is that we convened a meeting of more than 3,000 ulema (Islamic scholars) … these, after they endorsed us, carried out a mosque-to-mosque campaign, issued fatwas and [held] Friday prayers where they asked the women to participate,” the former World Bank official told journalists at a news conference in Kabul.
Unofficial data collected and released by his team estimates he won 4.2 million votes in a run-off on 14 June, while his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, claimed 2.9 million. In the first round Ghani received 2.1 million votes.
Plans to release the first phase of results this week have been put on hold after Abdullah, a former foreign minister and mujahideen doctor, said the results had been skewed by “blatant fraud” and withdrew from the vote-counting process.
On Friday he organised protests across Kabul, with thousands of demonstrators marching through the city to meet near the presidential palace. Some carried anti-fraud banners but others were shouting “Death to Ghani” and “Death to [vice-presidential candidate Abdul Rashid] Dostum”.