In April, Afghans went to the polls to decide who would replace Hamid Karzai as the new president of Afghanistan. Two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, made it into a June runoff.
But, after initial results showed Ghani leading by a wide margin, Abdullah made fraud allegations and demanded a recount. That is now underway as a team of international observers tries to complete an audit of eight million votes.
Meanwhile, President Karzai says he hopes to leave office next week. Can the stalemate be resolved by then? CCTV’s John Gilmore reports.
The Heat: The latest on the Afghanistan election crisisPresident Karzai says he hopes to leave office next week. Can the stalemate be resolved by then? CCTV’s John Gilmore reports.
It was supposed to be a shining moment for Afghanistan’s young democracy as millions cast their ballots in April to decide who they wanted as their next president. Former Foreign Minister, Abdullah Abdullah, finished first in a field of eight candidates. But, without the 50 percent majority needed to win, he was forced into a June runoff with former Finance Minister, Ashraf Ghani.
After preliminary results from the runoff showed Ghani leading by a big margin, Abdullah accused him and the current Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, of rigging the vote. Abdullah demanded a recount while Karzai and Ghani denied the allegations.
Presidential Candidate Ashraf Ghani said, “Our commitment is to ensure that the election process enjoys the integrity and the legitimacy that the people of Afghanistan and the world would believe.”
With tensions rising and fears of civil unrest, the United States stepped in. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry brokered a deal in Kabul with the candidates.
“We are grateful for the assistance for the people of Afghanistan as well as the sacrifices that your people have done alongside the Afghans,” said Presidential Candidate Abdullah Abdullah.
The deal called for an audit of the eight million votes cast to be overseen by the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan and a team of international observers. And, the formation of a unity government with a prominent role for the loser when the final results are announced.
But the vote audit has been highly controversial, too. On Wednesday, Abdullah withdrew his observers claiming the process is not stringent enough to catch fraud. The uncertainty caused by the election impasse is hurting Afghanistan’s economy with worries about a financial crisis.
And, the Taliban who were ousted from power following the U.S. invasion in 2001, are again making military advances as the summer fighting season continues.
Meanwhile, the United States which had hoped to pull most of its troops out of Afghanistan by the end of this year has developed plans to stay on until an orderly withdrawal can be achieved.
Our panel guests included Omar Samad, former Afghan Ambassador to both France and Canada. He is also a former spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kabul. And Adela Raz, deputy spokesperson to President Hamid Karzai joined us from Kabul.
Afghanistan election crisis : Panel segment 1Our panel guests included Omar Samad, former Afghan Ambassador to both France and Canada. He is also a former spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kabul. And Adela Raz, deputy spokesperson to President Hamid Karzai joined us from Kabul.
Our panel discussion continues.