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Abdullah Slams EU For Recognizing Afghan Presidential Election Results

Outgoing Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah
Outgoing Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah

KABUL-- Afghanistan's outgoing Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah has complained to the European Union about its recognition of final official Afghan presidential election results showing President Ashraf Ghani has been reelected.

In a Twitter post that included a copy of his letter of complaint, Abdullah declared on February 20 that the results announced on February 18 from the presidential vote were "illegal and unacceptable to most Afghans."

Abdullah alleged that official results showing him in second place behind Ghani were the result of "systemic fraud and serious electoral irregularities" that were carried out "at the behest of a rival team."

"As the rightful winners, we decided to form an inclusive government and engage all sides to aim for a just and cohesive outcome," Abdullah said in his February 20 tweet. "We also ask our international friends to remain impartial, adhere to their principled positions, and respect a fair and legal Afghan process and results."

Abdullah on February 19 also sent letters to foreign embassies in Kabul asking them not to recognize what he described as "illegal" election results.

Abdullah's February 20 letter of complaint was addressed to European Union High Representative Josep Borrell, who also is vice president of the European Commission.

Borrell had telephoned Ghani on February 19 to congratulate him on his victory in the September 28, 2019 vote.

A statement from Borrell's office said he'd welcomed the fact that "months of intensive verification and an appeal process engaging all interested parties had come to an end."

Borrell also said the EU paid tribute to the work of Afghan election officials who were confronted with difficult "challenges."

But with the exception of Borrell, there has been a muted response from the international community about Afghanistan's final official vote count -- which showed Ghani with just over 50 percent of the vote and Abdullah trailing in second place with about 39.5 percent.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was among those issuing a more muted reaction.

It said UNAMA "takes note of the announcement of the final results for Afghanistan's presidential election and the work of the country's electoral bodies leading up to the announcement."

The UNAMA statement stressed "the importance of any challenge made to the final results of the election process remaining consistent with the regulations of the country and conducted in the interest of stability and cohesion, and in accordance with the constitutional order."

UNAMA said it also was "taking note of concerns" expressed by Abdullah and other candidates and their supporters about the final official results.

"The United Nations will continue its work to support the people and institutions of Afghanistan, including all political parties, providing impartial and expert advice" to encourage electoral officials to "address the candidates' understandable desire to have clarity on decisions taken related to audits and recounts," it said.

Abdullah's running mate, Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, has called on his supporters to take to the streets to protest against the reelection of President Ashraf Ghani.

Dostum said on February 19 that the final official vote count by Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) amounted to a "coup."

He called on supporters at a rally in his northern home province of Jowzjan to "hit the streets" to celebrate what he described as a victory for Abdullah.

But reports from across Afghanistan say there have been few signs of major protests or celebrations over the final vote count, despite Dostum's rallying cry and Abdullah's public complaints.

The nearly five-month delay for the final results to be announced was caused by lengthy recounts undertaken after Abdullah and others raised allegations of electoral fraud.

Abdullah's vow to set up an "all inclusive" separate government is reminiscent of the angrily contested 2014 election in which Ghani was also declared as the winner and Abdullah finished second.

With additional reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and ToloNews

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