Outcome of Afghanistan's second round presidential poll still in doubt | Asia Pacific

Outcome of Afghanistan's second round presidential poll still in doubt

Outcome of Afghanistan's second round presidential poll still in doubt

Updated 11 July 2014, 11:34 AEST

In Afghanistan, the outcome of last month's second-round presidential poll is still being challenged.

It's against this backdrop, that the U-S Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Kabul, for talks with rivals Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah.

The Independent Election Commission on Monday, declared Dr Ghani the winner, with over 56 per cent of the vote, but this has been rejected by Dr Abdullah, who won the first round.

So how does Secretary Kerry hope to break the deadlock?

Presenter: Sen Lam

Speaker: Dr Peter Tomsen, former US presidential envoy to Afghanistan

TOMSEN: Well, the only way he can break it is to do what I think he's going to do, is talk to the parties involved. That includes President Karzai, whose come under somewhat of a cloud with the Independent Election Commission - IEC, which he appointed charged with massive fraud in the elections.

I would differentiate therefore the Afghan situation with the Indonesian situation, where presumably the Election Commission there is viewed as relatively neutral. For many Afghans that's not the case now in Afghanistan. The other two main actors, of course, are the contending candidates, Dr Abdullah Abdullah and Dr Ashraf Ghani.

LAM: Given the accusation from the Abdullah camp, that Hamid Karzai has been backing Ashraf Ghani. How can the President, the incumbent, possibly hope to mediate in the current dispute?

TOMSEN: Well, there is reason to hope that President Karzai will have the will to allow a thorough audit of the vote so far and to throw out the fraudulent votes and see who won. And let me add here, that either candidate winning, in my judgement, will be a very able President.

But the question is which one has gotten the most votes. Both are claiming that they got the most votes, but if Karzai digs in his heels and insists that the election is legitimate, despite the evidence to the contrary, there is not much anybody can do, any outsider or any Afghan for that matter.

He's still the President and his Independent Election Commisssion on July 22nd, when it issues the final decision of who won will just announce the results which would favour Ashraf Gani. And the world have to accept it, if it wants to work with the next government, although Afghans and the international community would view the process as highly flawed.

LAM: Peter Tomsen, you made reference to the Indonesian experience, and, of course, it may well go before a Constitutional Court if Prabowo Subianto challenges the early count. Is there a similar body, like Indonesian Constitutional Court, is there a similar body in Afghanistan to make a final ruling in cases like this?

TOMSEN: Yes, there are a number of bodies. There's the Supreme Court of Afghanistan and there's also the Attorney-General's office and there's the Complaints Commission, which now is now looking at all of the votes.

However, all of those incumbents that are running those various institutions are associates to President Karzai and he has put them there probably with the expectation that they would not disobey him.

And that's why I say the will of President Karzai is very important, if he has the will to have a free and fair election, it's not too late, just the preliminary results were just announced, the final results, which could be very different, including one person that .. (inaudible) outcome could be different in the final announcement and that was the head of the Independent Election Commission, Yousuf Nuristani.

However, there's not much hope for that among many Afghans. They think the process will go forward like a train and that the same basic announcements that Ashraf Ghani won will be announced on the 22nd.

In the talks with Secretary Kerrry, I think Secretary Kerry will be pushing for a comprehensive and neutral audit of the votes. Whether or not Karzai truly goes along with that is yet to be decided.

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