Preliminary results from Afghanistan’s presidential election, due to be announced on Wednesday, have been delayed, an election official said, amid accusations of fraud that threaten to split the fragile country along ethnic lines. Votes from around 2,000 polling stations in the June 14 run-off are to be reviewed and recounted, said Sharifa Zurmati Wardak of the Independent Election Commission (IEC). The contest pitted former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah against former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani. “This will take nearly a week and the final result won’t be announced on time,” Wardak told Reuters.
A senior U.N. official said the delay was intended to take account of allegations by Abdullah that his rival engaged in mass vote rigging.
Ghani’s aides, citing election observers, say he is in the lead in the run-off by one million votes. But official figures have not been released.
The election was intended to mark the first democratic transfer of power in Afghan history, a crucial step towards stability as NATO prepares to withdraw the bulk of its troops by the end of the year.