KABUL: Afghanistan’s election commission yesterday once again suspended the auditing process of 8.1 million votes cast in the presidential run-off poll, after the two candidates failed to agree on the procedure for invalidating fraudulent votes.
“The Independent Election Commission (IEC) has decided to suspend temporarily the vote audit until the fourth day of Eid, and we hope it is enough time for the candidates to sort out their differences,” the IEC chairman Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani told a press conference yesterday.
The Eid festival is expected to begin tomorrow or the day after.
“The votes audit goes very slowly, the representatives of the candidates have walked out of the auditing process for the third time in the past ten days over differences of opinion,” Nuristani said yesterday.
The audit was briefly suspended a week ago by a dispute over vote count records deemed void by one candidate’s team as they lacked a full name and signature.
Yesterday’s suspension came shortly after the United Nations said that both candidates had indicated they support a UN proposal with specific criteria for invalidating fraudulent ballots in the audit process.
The procedure for dealing with fraud is the primary point of contention between the two sides, but they also disagree on other technical aspects of the process.
Meanwhile US President Barack Obama called both candidates on Friday night asking them to endorse their previous agreement over the outcome of the election audit and the formation of a national unity government.
“Noting that the audit is steadily progressing, the president encouraged both candidates to publicly endorse their previously agreed political framework and continue their dialogue,” said a readout of the phone call.
The inspection of all 8.1 million ballots cast in the June 14 run-off was agreed by rival candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, following a deal brokered two weeks ago by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
The IEC had said it would take around three weeks, with teams working in two shifts processing around 1,000 ballot boxes a day.