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Afghan Election Front-Runner Releases Recordings To 'Prove' Fraud Claims

Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah demonstrate in Kabul on June 21.
Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah demonstrate in Kabul on June 21.
The campaign team of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has released audio recordings purportedly containing evidence of fraud against a top member of the country's Independent Election Commission (IEC).

Abdullah has accused electoral officials and others of trying to rig the result of the June 14 runoff between him and Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister.

Abdullah, a former leader of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance and an ex-foreign minister, last week recalled his observers monitoring the ongoing count and said the outcome of the runoff with Ghani would be illegal.

Abdullah's team at a press conference on June 22 released the recordings, which purport to be conversations between IEC secretary Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail, other IEC officials, and "a member of Ghani's team."

They include Amarkhail allegedly reassuring the member of Ghani's team that staff would be "used" to favor his election.

In what Abdullah's team has interpreted as apparent code for ballot-box stuffing, Amarkhail is also urging a fellow IEC member to "bring the sheep stuffed and not empty."

Amarkhail has denied the accusations and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission has launched an investigation.

Tahir Zahir, a spokesman for Ghani, called for a proper investigation, saying voice duplication "is very easy."

The United Nations has warned of an escalation of ethnic tension and called on Abdullah to reengage with the election.

Abdullah is of mixed heritage but his support base is with the Afghanistan's Tajik community, while Ghani is an ethnic Pashtun.

Abdullah's supporters have been holding street protests, with several hundred people demonstrating outside the presidential palace on June 22 while others blocked traffic for a second day on the main road leading to the international airport.

In the western province of Herat, Abdullah supporters gathered and chanted "death to IEC" and "Fraudsters must be tried."

In northern Konduz Province, armed men from Abdullah's campaign reportedly shut down the election office.

The purported recordings could stoke further nationwide protests supporting Abdullah's decision to withdraw from the vote.
With reporting by AFP, BBC, and