Afghanistan’s election commission announced on Sunday it has completed the audit that will determine the country’s next president. The contested presidential election has seen both presidential hopefuls, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, accusing each other of industrial-scale fraud, fomenting revolt, and endorsing violence. As of Monday, the ballots have been sent to the electoral complaints commission, who will grant Ghani and Abdullah 24 hours to log any complaints they may have. The complaints commission will then have 48 hours to address their complaints and submit the final result to the electoral commission for review. The electoral commission is expected to announce the final results by the end of the week. If similar announcements in the past are any guide, however, this will likely be delayed. The first round of votes on 5 April was noticeable for its relative absence of violence, and the country underwent a brief spell of optimism. The second round of election on 14 June was a departure from this original feeling of euphoria, and was marred by claims and counter claims of fraud between the two candidates.
The UN-sponsored audit was completed on 4 September, but announcements had been delayed to buy more time for the candidates to reach a political deal. Now that the audit is complete, attention has turned again to the possibility of a negotiated agreement. Both candidates have stated that a deal is near – in a matter of days – but previous attempts have failed due to their inability to compromise.
Tensions deepened on Monday when a prominent Ghani supporter issued a statement that called for his candidate to “reject the idea of equal power sharing”.
“We want to clarify that we are not pro-crisis,” the statement from Juma Khan Hamdard read. “But if some people intend not to accept the final results and attempt to push Afghanistan towards crisis, we are ready to defend our votes at any cost,” it said.