Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) says final official results from the country’s September 28 presidential election show incumbent President Ashraf Ghani has been reelected to a second five-year term with 50.64 percent of the vote.
The results announced by the IEC at a press conference in Kabul on February 18 come nearly five months after the election due to a lengthy recount of the ballots that was launched after Ghani’s main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, raised allegations of fraud in the vote-counting process.
Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah took second place with 39.52 percent of the vote.
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of Afghanistan’s most notorious former warlords, finished in a distant third place with 3.85 percent of the vote.
The head of the election commission, Hawa Alam Nuristani, said after announcing Ghani’s victory: “May God help him in serving the people of Afghanistan. I also pray that peace comes to our country.”
But Abdullah’s team quickly dismissed the final vote count.
“The results announced by the commission have no legitimacy,” Abdullah’s campaign spokesman Faraidoon Khwazoon said shortly after the announcement.
“This announcement is unacceptable,” Khwazoon tod RFE/RL. “We stand against it.”
When asked about what Abdullah’s team plans to do next, Khwazoon told RFE/RL it would “use all different options on the table.”
The election was mired by a record low turnout and bickering between Ghani and Abdullah during the campaign.
The official turnout was 1.8 million votes out of about 9 million eligible voters.
The final official results were delayed by months while election officials launched a ballot recount — including recounts in provinces where Abdullah’s supporters had stopped the process for almost a month.
By winning more than 50 percent of the vote, Ghani has avoided a second-round runoff.
Widespread allegations of fraud in Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential election led to a political crisis between the top candidates, Ghani and Abdullah. That crisis was resolved by a U.S.-brokered power-sharing agreement that created a fragile national unity government.
Under that deal, Ghani became president while a new office of chief executive officer was created for Abdullah.