Abdullah Abdullah speaks in a press conference in Kabul

Amid anxiety and concern, Afghan candidates wait for primary result

As the two leading candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, claiming victory, it is difficult to predict who will make the future government in a country where political compromise, seasoned allies and struggle for power speak louder than democracy and election.      

Hours after the long-awaited Afghan presidential poll closed, a large number of supporters of the leading candidates claimed election victory, an act that was condemned as premature act by election watchdogs, international diplomatic missions and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Abdullah Abdullah, who is leading the stability and partnership presidential ticket and who is seen as one the two top leading candidates, was the first who appeared in a press conference on Monday, September 30. Though Mr. Abdullah did not claim victory he declared that “clean vote of the Afghan people will decide the future government.” He urged the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) to investigate election fraud thoroughly and delete ‘fake votes.’

The country’s election commission, though acknowledged minor mismanagement in the process, has repeatedly asserted that commission is committed to do its job with transparency and impartiality.

Appearing in press conference late on Monday night, September 28, former spy chief, Amrullah Saleh, who is the first vice president in the state builder presidential ticket led by the incumbent president Ashraf Ghani, said the Independent Election Commission is the only authorized national organization that can announce official result of the poll. He asked all candidates, in particular Mr. Abdullah, to respect ‘nation’s will’ and avoid any sort of premature victory claim.

Amrullah Saleh, who is the first vice president in state builder presidential ticket, speaks in a press conference in Kabul

To bring more transparency in vote-counting, the IEC has founded national tally center, a digital system that counts votes. Habib-ul-Rahman Nang, the chief of Independent Election Commission Secretariat, says national tally center is a digital system that enables the commission to do vote-counting analysis.

Afghanistan’s long-awaited and costly presidential election was held on September 28, under tight security and fear of violence. Though the Taliban insurgents had threatened to attack polling centers and warned the Afghans to stay away from polling stations, a sizeable number of Afghan voters turned out to cast their votes in the capital Kabul and other major cities of the country. According to latest figure issued by the IEC, as many as 2,196,436 Afghans have cast votes in the election. The IEC had earlier announced that 9.7 million Afghans had registered to vote.

Rahmatullah Nabel, a former spy chief, who is leading the security and justice presidential ticket, also appeared in a press conference on Tuesday, October 01, in the capital Kabul. According to Mr. Nabel substantiated documents suggest a widespread election fraud and vote rigging have taken place in favor of those candidates who are still in power. Pointing to the incumbent president and his chief executive, Nabel said no one is winner in the first round of the election. The former spy chief, called on the country’s election commission to take preparation for a round-off.

Rahmatullah Nabel, a presidential candidate who is leading security and justice presidential ticket, speaks in a press conference held here in Kabul

Amid tough rivalry over securing the highest number of votes in the 2019 presidential election, Afghanistan’s senate speaker, Fazl Hadi Muslimyar, who is a close ally of the incumbent president Ashraf Ghani, grumbled that he and his supporters will force the IEC to count all votes, registered and unrequested one. Mr. Muslimyar turned into subject of jokes hours after he made such a statement from Senate podium. Many young Afghans called his stance provocative, biased and shameful. Under pressure by social media users, Muslimyar, however, apologized for his comment.  

The presidential election, though flawed it might be, is the only alternative for power sharing in a country as complex as Afghanistan where all major ethnic groups are struggling to have a piece from the cake of power.