ABU DHABI: Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission in Wednesday, April 30, declared 230,000 ballots cast in the April 5 presidential elections invalid.
According to the preliminary results of the elections announced on April 26, none of the presidential candidates received 50% plus one vote needed for the victory.
Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah received 44.9% of votes, followed by former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai with 31.5% and former Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul with 11.5%
The final results of the voting will be announced on May 14. However observers say the figures may be altered only slightly in the remaining days and this will not change the overall picture.
In the run-off election, the main contenders for the post will be Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. The winner will be determined by a simple majority. They are well known both inside the country and abroad as they held senior government positions under incumbent President Hamid Karzai, who is not allowed by the Constitution to run for a third term.
The turnout in Afghanistan’s presidential and municipal elections held on April 5 was 58%, Independent Election Commission Chair Yusuf Nuristani said.
Polling stations officially closed at 17:00 local time, but Afghan media reported that some of them continued working for more than an hour to allow all those wishing to vote to do so. And some commissions were said to have started counting votes even though initially this procedure was scheduled for April 6.
Despite negative forecasts, the main problems the country had to deal with on this day were heavy rains and a shortage of ballots, not the Taliban movement as was feared. Polling stations stayed open longer by one hour because of bad weather to let people vote.
The situation in the country was calm despite the Taliban fighters’ threats to upset the voting at any cost. Unprecedented security measures taken by the authorities, with 350,000 army personnel and law enforcers ensuring law and order, helped to prevent casualties among civilians.
Over 300 local and international observers who monitored the voting reported some minor irregularities that were promptly rectified by the local authorities.
There are about 12 million eligible voters in Afghanistan. Given the complex situation in the country, the elections will be deemed valid with any turnout. Vote counting began on April 6 and continued for two weeks until April 20. PNA