KABUL: The camps of the two frontrunners in Afghanistan’s presidential election voiced concern on Monday about a further delay in the announcement of last month’s poll results.
On the basis of the timeline of the election, which was already delayed twice and saw the lowest turnout of any ballot held in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s ouster, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) failed to release the preliminary results on Oct. 19.
Officials of the government-appointed body said at the time that the IEC would announce the results within a week.
But on Sunday the head of the IEC, Hawa Alam Nuristani, said the outcome would be published on Nov. 14, which will push back the declaration of the final results too.
The IEC cited technical issues and hacking of its server as the main reasons for the delay.
This has created skepticism that the process will create a crisis similar to the 2014 polls, which progressed to the second round and led to — based on a deal brokered by Washington — Ashraf Ghani becoming president and his arch rival Abdullah Abdullah becoming chief executive.
“Despite the fact that we’re concerned about any delay (in the announcement of the poll results), if that aids the transparency of the election then it’s bearable,” Fazl Ahmad Manawi, a chief manager for Abdullah, told Arab News.
Harun Mir, an official representing Ghani’s side, said: “We see no legal or moral justification for delaying the results. People expect the IEC to explain with transparency the reasons for it.”
Officials of the two camps said divisions between IEC commissioners, the partiality of some of the nominees and poor management were the causes for the postponement.
Asked if the delay was part of a compromise to allow the resumption of US talks with the Taliban so the group is given a share in the future setup, Manawi said: “I don’t see any political plot, but anything is possible in Afghanistan.”
The US special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is currently in Kabul, where he has met with Ghani, Abdullah and other influential Afghan politicians to discuss resuming talks with Taliban.
The Taliban wants the withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan, considers Ghani’s administration a US “puppet,” and says it will not accept elections under occupation.
Speaking at the Council of Ministers meeting on Monday, Abdullah said both the talks and election process were very important for Afghanistan.
“We must act on opportunities for peace, but at the same time we mustn’t forget a transparent election result,” he added.
“A transparent election will rescue democracy and the democratic process, and will bring stability to the country. We’re asking the IEC to keep its independence for the remainder of the process.”