Kerry to work for election dispute settlement

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KABUL: Kerry’s visit comes after Abdullah threatened to form a parallel government earlier this week. Abdullah, who came in second in the preliminary results with 43.56 percent, accused the electoral bodies of committing an “industrial-scale fraud” in favor of his rival Ghani-Ahmadzai, calling for a nationwide audit.
Secretary of State’s day began with talks with the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Ján Kubiš, who proposed mechanisms on auditing polling sites and votes in a two-week time frame.
“We are at a very, very critical moment for Afghanistan,” Kerry said over breakfast with Ján Kubiš.
“The election legitimacy hangs in the balance.
The future potential of a transition hangs in the balance, so we have a lot of work to do.”
Kerry, who spent four days in October of 2009 engaged in intense talks with President Hamid Karzai and convinced him to accept a second round election, is facing a relatively similar situation, if not a further complicated one. President Karzai, who is scheduled to step down in just over three weeks, met Kerry a little after his breakfast with Ján Kubiš. The two men focused on several key issues particularly the election deadlock and exchanged their views on UN’s proposition in handling audits within a two-week time frame, which according to Karzai’s office, he endorsed to have votes from 8,050 polling stations inspected that make up for 43 percent of total votes. The UN proposed that the following should be inspected within two weeks:
– Inspection of ballot boxes with 595+ votes
– Inspection of female stations staffed by male workers
– Inspection of polling centers where female turnout was higher than male
– Inspection of polling stations with round figures
– Inspection of all 4,000 polling stations added for the runoff
During their talks, Karzai said that any solution to end the electoral stalemate within the legal framework of Afghanistan and in consensus with the candidates is acceptable, adding that he certifies the role of the UN.
In addition he said that the oath taking ceremony will take place in accordance to the timeline:
]August 2, 2014. Abdullah’s camp rejected the proposal made by the UN, saying votes from at least 11,000 polling stations should be audited.
His team demanded inspection of all polling stations where 93 percent or more votes were cast for a sole candidate and the invalidation of votes in all contingency polling stations (nearly 4,000). Ghani-Ahmadzai’s camp and the UN have not agreed with Abdullah’s additional demands yet. Abdullah’s camp expects Secretary Kerry to exert pressure on the UN and Ghani-Ahmadzai’s camp to accept their additional audit demands. Ghani-Ahmadzai met with Kerry later Friday morning to discuss the interest of Afghanistan and the electoral tensions that continue to rise.
“I am here because President Obama and the United States of America are deeply interested in a unified, democratic and stable Afghanistan,” Kerry said as he commenced conversation with Ghani-Ahmadzai. “It can be resolved [electoral stalemate] and that the way forward is to give Afghans the confidence that they have a presidency and a government that is capable of unifying all Afghans and building the road for the future…as the doctor said, no one i
s declaring victory at this time.
The results are yet to be finalized.”
Ghani-Ahmadzai in response to the introduction of their talks said that he commits to ensuring that the election process “enjoys the integrity and the legitimacy of the people of Afghanistan and the world with the lead.”
“Therefore, we believe in the most intensive and extensive audit possible to restore faith,” he continued. “Simultaneously from day one, when we submitted our nomination, our commitment has been to an inclusive government, a government that could represent all of the Afghans and serve every Afghan citizen in a manner that every Afghan deserves according to the constitution.”
Throughout Friday’s meetings, Kerry emphasized that the candidates need to keep the interest of the people of Afghanistan in mind and that “a government is recognized by all the people through a legitimate and democratic process.” “We want a unified, stable and democratic Afghanistan;
It’s important that whoever is president is recognized by the people and has become president through a legitimate process and can unify the people their future,” he said in an introduction before discussions with Abdullah.
“The results announced on Monday are preliminary.
They are neither authoritative nor final.”
In reply to Kerry’s opening, Abdullah thanked the Secretary of State and the U.S. for their continued support and interest in Afghanistan. “We are grateful for your assistance to the people of Afghanistan as well as the sacrifices that your people have made,” Abdullah expressed. “It’s a joint achievement and the future of our achievements depends on the success of the democratic process.”
U.S. Secretary of State has two days to bring the candidates in agreement to relieve the electoral tension before his departure on Sunday.
Before Secretary Kerry’s visit to Kabul, he warned that Afghanistan would lose the U.S. financial support if any group would grasp power through “extra-constitutional measures”.
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with both candidates before Kerry’s arrival, extending his support to push for an audit to satisfy both candidates.
It is still unclear whether Kerry can come up with an audit criterion acceptable for both Ghani-Ahmadzai and Abdullah.
He is expected to meet the candidates separately on Friday and on Saturday.
His envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins told a forum in Washington on Thursday that a “winner-take-all” situation is not “workable”, suggesting a coalition government.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced preliminary results of the runoff presidential election Monday evening with Ghani-Ahmadzai leading with 56.44 percent. Abdullah fell behind with 43.56 percent.
The IEC said the turnout was 8.1 million in the runoff.
The Kabul Times

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