Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah’s campaign stepped up pressure on Afghanistan’s chief election officer on Sunday, releasing phone recordings that allegedly show the officer orchestrated the rigging of the nation’s election. Mr. Abdullah, a former foreign minister, has demanded that the chief election officer, Ziaulhaq Amarkhil be fired, accusing him and his Independent Election Commission of perpetrating “industrial-scale” fraud in favor of the rival contender, Ashraf Ghani, in the June 14 runoff election. Mr. Amarkhil, shown a transcript of the recordings before the Abdullah campaign released them, said he doesn’t recall having had such a conversation. “I would never talk like that,” he said in an interview.
In the recordings, broadcast on Afghan television, Mr. Amarkhil is said to have used code-words for fraud, such as “stuffing the sheep,” as he purportedly discussed with a member of Mr. Ghani’s team and a commission official ways to increase the candidate’s vote and appoint cooperative poll workers.
Hamidullah Farooqi, a spokesman for the Ghani campaign, said that he can’t confirm the tapes’ veracity, adding that his campaign condemns fraud by any camp. “Our team is not in a position to defend Mr. Amarkhil or his activity on election day. If he did wrong, he is responsible for it,” Mr. Farooqi said.