Afghan election challenger Abdullah declares himself president, announces parallel government

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Afghan presidential election challenger Abdullah Abdullah (foreground) and incumbent President Ashraf Ghani. Jim Bourg, AFP
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Agencies

Afghan presidential election challenger Abdullah Abdullah on Tuesday contested final results that declared incumbent President Ashraf Ghani the winner of a September presidential poll, vowing to form a parallel government.

“Our team, based on clean and biometric votes, is the victor and we declare our victory. The fraudsters are the shame of history and we announce our inclusive government,” Abdullah said at a press conference in Kabul.

Earlier on Tuesday, Afghan election officials said final results showed he had won 39.52 percent of last September’s vote while Ghani had taken 50.64 percent, above the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid another run-off.

“The election commission … declares Mr Ashraf Ghani, who has won 50.64 percent of the votes, as the president of Afghanistan,” election commission chief Hawa Alam Nuristani told a press conference in Kabul.

“May God help him in serving the people of Afghanistan … I also pray that peace comes to our country,” she added.

The results had been delayed for nearly five months after allegations of vote-rigging from Ghani’s main rival, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, forced a recount.

The delay left Afghanistan facing a political crisis just as the US seeks a deal with the Taliban that would allow it to withdraw troops in return for various security guarantees and a promise that the militants would hold peace talks with the Afghan government.

Abdullah lost to Ghani in 2014 in a divisive election that saw the US intervene to broker an awkward power-sharing deal between the two rivals.

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