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Afghan Officials Begin Audit Of All Ballots In Presidential Poll

Afghan election commission workers prepare to cut open the seals to a box containing ballot papers for an audit of the presidential runoff votes at a counting center in Kabul on July 17.

Afghan election officials have begun an internationally supervised audit of all 8 million ballot papers cast in the second round of the country's presidential election.

Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, the chairman of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission, said on July 17 that the audit would take at least three weeks to complete and that hundreds of teams had been formed to carry out the task.

The audit was agreed by both candidates -- Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani -- in a deal brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on July 12 as a way to avoid violence over allegations of electoral fraud.

Both candidates have agreed to respect the results of the audit and that whoever is shown to be the winner will immediately form a "unity government."

The audit has forced election officials to postpone the date of a presidential inauguration initially scheduled for August 2.

With reporting by AFP