Alwaght- Ashraf Ghani won a second term as president of Afghanistan, the country's independent election commission announced Tuesday.
Hawa Alam Nuristani, the election commission’s chief in a press conference in the capital Kabul said that Ghani won the election by getting 64.50 percent of the votes.
She added that Abdullah Abdullah, Ghani’s major challenger, won 39.52 percent of the votes.
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Hezb-e-Islami movement, won 3.85 percent of the votes, Nuristani told the journalists.
On Monday, the election commission said that the recount of the votes in provinces of Badakhshan, Takhar, Sar-e Pol, Faryab, Ghazni, Nangarhar, Helmand, Kandahar, and Kabul ended under the supervisors’ watch and with the candidates’ representatives presence.
The final results of the elections were announced five months after the election.
The election has reportedly cost $149 million, $90 million paid by the Afghan government and $59 million by international organizations.
The initial reaction of Ghani to the result
President Ghani in his first address after the result announcement said that his victory is the victory of the Afghanistan people. He added that the win was a result of the people’s vote and resistance. He further said that the government was the trusteeship of all of the people of Afghanistan and that he did not have a sense of group, individual, or sectarian excitement.
He announced the end of the competition and said that the country cannot be divided. He commented on the peace negotiations, saying that the diverse and strong community of Afghanistan will absorb the Taliban. “The results of the talks with the Taliban demonstrate the community and government’s toleration and power to attract the Taliban or any other group.”
Abdullah Abdullah seeks inclusive government
Abdullah Abdullah, the candidate of Stability and Convergence Movement and the key rival to Ghani, in his first reaction said that the decisions made by the election committee were illegal.
“The result they (IEC) announced today was a result of election robbery, a coup against democracy, a betrayal of the will of the people, and we consider it illegal,” he told a news conference following the announcement. He, however, said that he will work towards an inclusive government.
He called himself the winner and said: “I repeat… the fraudsters will be disgraced in history.”
Taliban: Ghani is not the president
The Taliban blasted the Ghani victory announcement and said that his win was for show and fraudulent.
In a statement, the group said that the election was “meaningless” as it was held under the occupation. The group further stated: “The Muslim nation of Afghanistan will determine their home and political affairs after end of the occupation. At that time, they will reach their real ideals under the rule of a strong Muslim government.”
The group went on that elections under the occupation in over the past 19 years have not solved the people’s problems and they will not do so in the future.
The group said that the election was fraudulent and illegal and thus lacked legitimacy. This runs counter to the peace talks and the current conditions of the country, the group noted.
Vice-president Abdul Rashid Dustam on February 13 threatened that if the commission declared Ghani the winner, he will form a parallel government led by Abdullah. Experts warn that if Abdullah and his orbit decline to recognize Ghani a president, the county will witness a new political crisis.
Mohammed Mohaghegh, a member of the Abdullah electoral team in reaction to the result said that the election commission added 300,000 fake ballots in favor of Ghani. However, if these ballots are dropped, Abdullah will be the winner and Ghani’s percentage will fall to under 40 percent.
The US ambassador to Kabul welcomed the announcement of the result saying that the country has more steps to the final result and assurance of the public.
The Election Complaints Commission urged the involved sides to avoid prejudging because the results are just preliminary. It said it will address the complaints transparently and neutrally.
The UN also backed the announcement. It said that the election committee should give technical and constitutional justification for any decisions they take in the final stage. They have to transparently explain their decisions to the people of Afghanistan, it said.
Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), a supervisory organization, said that the initial results were released by the election commission without sharing adequate information about the voters and voting stations.
The TEFA held that the commission did not give any information about the 300,000 controversial ballots. It called on the commission to provide adequate information and also get the discontentment of the two sides about the alleged fraud.
With regard to the early challenge of the candidates, the Afghanistan people and the world community are worried about a new crisis like that of 2014. At the time, Ghani, the winner of the election, finally agreed to share the power with Abdullah Abdullah under national unity government. The results are published after five months and with a three-month delay while the election committee received about 16,000 complaints from various candidates about electoral violations across the country.