Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Afghan Crisis Risks Splitting Country

Presidential Candidate Claims Victory, Defying Early Vote Count, and Considers Forming Own Government

By Margherita Stancati and Nathan Hodge in Kabul and Dion Nissenbaum in Washington -- WSJ

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah claimed victory in defiance of preliminary vote results showing he lost and considered forming his own government, despite U.S. warnings that the country risked losing financial and security aid.

"There is no doubt we are the winners of this election," Mr. Abdullah told supporters during a boisterous rally in Kabul. "We will not allow a fraudulent government for a day."

Before the rally, President Barack Obama called Mr. Abdullah and urged him to await a probe of ballot-stuffing allegations, telling him that "there is no justification for resorting to violent or extra-constitutional measures," said White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. "We've been clear that any such move would cost Afghanistan the financial and security assistance of the United States," she added.

Mr. Abdullah said he would decide within a few days whether to form his own administration, a statement his supporters jeered because they wanted him to say he was taking power immediately.

The deepening election dispute over who will replace President Hamid Karzai has already raised the specter of territorial fragmentation.

(More here.)

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