(Reuters) – Thousands of angry protesters marched on the Afghan president’s palace on Friday in support of candidate Abdullah Abdullah’s allegations that mass fraud had been committed during the presidential election by organisers and state officials.
The run-off poll, pitting the former Northern Alliance leader against ex-finance minister Ashraf Ghani on June 14, has fallen into deadlock over Abdullah’s decision last week to drop out.
The impasse has revived longstanding ethnic tensions in Afghanistan because Abdullah’s base of support is with the Tajiks, the second largest ethnic group, while Ghani is Pashtun, the largest group.
It also comes at a dangerous time, with the Taliban insurgency still raging and most NATO-led forces preparing to leave the country by the end of the year.
A member of the Ghani team, former candidate Daud Sultanzoy, said on Friday that based on information from election observers it predicted a lead of about 1.2 to 1.3 million votes over Abdullah.
“We are not claiming anything as we respect the election commission and will wait for its official announcement of the winner,” he said. “However, we know we are comfortably ahead.”
Abdullah’s supporters marched across Kabul and gathered in front of the presidential palace. Abdullah drove alongside aboard a small truck, waving a flag.
“Our beloved president is Abdullah Abdullah,” shouted supporters, along with additional cries blaming the incumbent, President Hamid Karzai, for the political stand-off. Karzai was constitutionally barred from running for third time.
Abdullah has accused Karzai, provincial governors and police of complicity in efforts to rig the election…. see more