Tensions Rise As Afghan Candidate Rejects Election Results

Before the results are even in, Abdullah Abdullah says he won't recognize the outcome of Afghan's presidential election. The one-time front-runner risks pushing the country into political crisis.

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LYNN NEARY, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary in for Rachel Martin. In Afghanistan, the ink might be fading from fingertips, but the controversy over last weekend's presidential runoff election is only growing. Candidate Abdullah Abdullah has thrown the process into a tailspin by declaring the boat fraudulent and refusing to accept the results that are due next month. He's implicated the Electoral Commissions and President Hamid Karzai. Afghans are increasingly worried about where this is all heading. NPR's Sean Carberry reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: (Foreign language spoken).

SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: Moments after the polls closed last weekend, Abdullah went on the fraud offensive. He immediately alleged that Zia Amarkhel, the head of the Independent Elections Commission, was involved in fraud in favor of opponent Ashraf Ghani.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

CARBERRY: At a hastily organized press conference today, Abdullah's campaign presented its first piece of public evidence.

(SOUNDBITE OF PHONE CONVERSATION)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

CARBERRY: They claim this audio is a series of secretly recorded phone conversations of Amarkhel speaking with Ghani campaign staff and other elections officials. The audio's authenticity could not be confirmed.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

NOOR MOHAMMAD NOOR: (Foreign language spoken).

CARBERRY: Elections Commission spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor denies the recording is evidence of fraud. He says if Abdullah has evidence of wrongdoing, he needs to present it to the complaints commission.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

NADER MOHSENI: (Foreign language spoken).

CARBERRY: Nader Mohseni, the Electoral Complaints Commission spokesman, says they're reviewing more than 2,500 complaints filed since the vote, and they will complete their review this week. But it still doesn't change the current situation where Abdullah says he will not recognize the results of the election unless Amarkhel is removed and Abdullah's allegations of fraud are evaluated.

DAVOOD MORADIAN: We are now on the verge of political deadlock.

CARBERRY: Davood Moradian is a political analyst in Kabul. He says Afghanistan's political and legal institutions simply lack the capacity to break the deadlock.

MORADIAN: I think now it is for the international community to come out with a creative solution.

CARBERRY: Abdullah and President Karzai have called on the United Nations to effectively take over the process of addressing the complaints of fraud and restoring confidence in the process. But the U.N. in Kabul says they can't be seen as interfering or substituting the U.N. for Afghan leadership, which means things are still in a stalemate.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

CARBERRY: In the meantime, small numbers of Abdullah's supporters have taken to the streets to demonstrate. But that's only fueling the anxiety felt by many Afghans.

IMAM TALIB JAN: (Foreign language spoken).

CARBERRY: Thirty-three-year-old Talib Jan is an Imam.

JAN: (Through translator) These protests are wrong. All the people from merchants to ordinary people will just suffer.

MUSTAFA: (Foreign language spoken).

CARBERRY: Twenty-four-year-old Mustafa (ph), who like many Afghans goes by one name, is a fruit seller in Kabul.

MUSTAFA: (Through translator) They should respect Afghan people's vote. Demonstrations, fighting and disputes - how long will this continue?

CARBERRY: The preliminary results are due on July 2, and the final results July 22, which may or may not be the end of the process. Sean Carberry, NPR News, Kabul.

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