Ghani declared winner, world leaders hesitant to congratulate him

The incumbent president, Ashraf Ghani, was declared as winner of Afghanistan’s 2019 presidential poll with a narrow victory, securing just 50.64 percent of the vote, nearly five months after the poll took place late September 2019. According to the final results, Ghani’s main contender, the incumbent Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, has secured 39.5 percent of the total eligible votes.

Hours after the final results was announced by the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) late Tuesday, February 18, Abdullah rejected the results, calling it as ‘national treasons.’ He declared himself as winner.

Following the warnings issued by his staunch supporters, mainly Abdul Rashid Dostum, Abdullah said he would form his own ‘all inclusive’ government.

The Afghan election crisis comes ahead of a likely US-Taliban peace deal that is expected to be struck if a ‘reduction in violence’ agreement works to build trust between the Afghan government and the Taliban. 

Although supporters of Ghani and Abdullah, have rushed to claim victory in second term, no world leader has congratulated Mr. Ghani on securing another term in office.

Election crisis

It took the IEC and the country’s Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) nearly two months to come up with the final results after announcing the preliminary results in December 2019. In the preliminary election results, Mr. Ghani had secured 923,868 votes while in the final results he has been declared as winner with securing 923,592 votes. Abdullah, who won 720,990 votes in the preliminary results, was announced in the second position with securing 720,841 votes in the final results.

Hawa Alam Nooristani, chairwoman of the IEC, while announcing the final results on Tuesday, said the total turnout in the presidential election was 1,823,948 voters, and 31.5 percent of them were women. This comes while the IEC had registered around nine million voters across Afghanistan, a country with an estimated 35 million population.

Nearly 300,000 votes in the 2019 presidential election were controversial and three major presidential tickets—led by Abdullah, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and Rahmatullah Nabil—protested against it. They called for invalidation of the controversial votes.

On February 05, the country’s election complaint commission undertook special audit of the disputed votes in some polling stations while the protesting candidates and some election watchdogs refused to hold with the mechanism the IEC had undertaken for special audit.

The IEC, however, yesterday declared all 300.000 controversial votes as valid votes after completion of the special audit process.

Rival groups refuse to approve Ghani’s victory

General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who is a staunch supporter of Abdullah Abdullah, today while addressing a crowd of his supporters in northern city of Sheberghan, said he would not accept the final election results. Mr. Dostum, who leads the ethnic Uzbek of Afghanistan, warned that no one would be able to govern the country by force.

Rahmatullah Nabil, a former spy chief, who fought hard in the 2019 presidential election, also denounced the final election results. “I am sad to say that it was the death of democracy,” he said. Ashraf Ghani would be responsible for post-election crisis if he does not act to manage the ongoing election crisis, Mr. Nabil warned.

Hamid Karzai, former Afghan president, has also expressed discontent with final results of the 2019 presidential elections. Mr. Karzai, who made a public statement nearly 24 hours after the announcement of final election results, said, “I had said that the vote would lead to crisis without conditions for a fair election.”                

Taliban reaction

The Taliban who are now closer to making a peace deal with the United States than ever before have denounced Ghani’s victory, calling it in defiance of the ongoing peace talks.

“Holding elections and announcing oneself a president under occupation shall never remedy the problems of our Muslim Afghan nation just as it has failed to do so over the past nineteen years,” a statement issued by the Taliban reads.  

The militant group went on to label the election process as “fake and staged elections drama.”

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