News - Election 2014
Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah delivered an impassioned, game-changing speech at a press conference in Kabul late Sunday night. Abdullah said he would not accept the results of Saturday's election unless the Independent Election Commission's (IEC) Chief Electoral Officer, Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail, is suspended and a full investigation into his possible involvment in electoral fraud is conducted.
Abdullah went on to say that Amarkhail, who was implicated in vote rigging on Saturday when his staff was stopped by police leaving the IEC's headquarters in Kabul with cars loaded with unused ballots, represents just one example of the "endemic fraud" that has been in play during the election process. The presidential hopeful made it clear that he suspected there was further actions on the part of the IEC to manipulate the election's outcome.
The weighty accusations Abdullah made at his press conference were almost entirely directed at the IEC. When asked if he believed President Hamid Karzai had been neutral throughout the election process, he deflected and said it would be up to the Afghan people to make that judgement.
Abdullah went on to question the IEC's estimation that over seven million people voted in Saturday's runoff. "We will not accept results from provinces where the turnout was higher than the amount of eligible voters," he said, referring to a number of provinces that had "surprising" results.
The signifcance of Abdullah's press conference was made obvious by the fact that the IEC Chairman, Ahmed Yusuf Nuristani, went on the air with TOLOnews immediately afterward to offer a response.
Nuristani assured that a full investigation into the Amarkhail incident would be conducted, but that ultimately, Nuristani said, the decision over his fate would be in the hands of President Karzai. The IEC announced earlier on Sunday that a commitee had been formed comprised of both IEC and Ministry of Interior (MoI) staff to investigate Amarkhail and the events on Election Day.
The IEC Chairman then reiterated the story Amarkhail provided to explain why his convoy was taking ballots out of the IEC headquarters. He said that around 1:00pm on Saturday, 12 boxers were supposed to be brought to resupply polling centers in the Surobi district of Kabul. "There was no police escort available, so when the cars went they were stopped," Nuristani explained. He urged for judgements to be reserved until the investigation is completed.