US advises patience on Afghan election results

Preliminary results had been expected last Saturday but were delayed

TOPSHOT - An Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) official empties a ballot box to count ballot papers after polling stations closed, in Herat on September 28, 2019.  Afghans voted in presidential elections amid tight security on September 28, even as insurgents attacked polling centres in a series of blasts and clashes across the country that left at least two people dead. / AFP / HOSHANG HASHIMI
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The US on Thursday called for restraint as Afghans wait for election results, saying the delay was necessary to ensure a fair count.

Alice Wells, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, said after a visit to Kabul that she was pleased all major candidates pledged to accept results.

"I stressed the need for a transparent and credible tallying process and for the ability of Afghanistan's electoral institutions to lead the process without pressure or interference," Ms Wells said in Washington.

"At this stage, accuracy in tabulating the results is more important than speed, and I encouraged all candidates to exercise restraint and to await the official announcement of election results."

Preliminary results from the September 28 vote were expected last Saturday but the Independent Election Commission delayed the announcement, saying there were technical issues and the need for transparency.

The last election in 2014 was marred by allegations of rigging, with then secretary of state John Kerry resolving the crisis by brokering a power-sharing agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and his chief rival, Dr Abdullah Abdullah.

Both men ran in the latest election but western powers have hailed improvements since, including biometric machines to prevent any person from voting more than once.

The election took place under the backdrop of a Taliban campaign of violence and weeks after US President Donald Trump abruptly ended peace talks with the insurgents.

Mr Ghani had sharply criticised the draft deal between the Taliban and US.

Days before the election, the Trump administration cut $160 million (Dh587m) in direct funding to Afghan authorities because of what it said was corruption.