Afghan election commission official steps down

Kabul : The chief of Afghanistan’s Election Commission secretariat Ziaul Haq Omarkhil announced his resignation Monday amid allegations of election fraud in the June 14 runoff presidential vote by presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah.

Abdullah accused Omarkhil of fraud and vote rigging in favour of his contender Ashraf Ghani in the June 14 presidential runoff and called for suspension of Omarkhil from duty last week, Xinhua reported.

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Abdullah, who secured 45 percent of some seven million votes in the first round of April 5 presidential poll against his rival Ashraf Ghani, who obtained 31.6 percent of votes, urged the Election Commission to immediately stop vote counting.

While rejecting all allegations as baseless, Omarkhil said that he resigned for the larger national interests and not under pressure.

Speaking at the press conference Monday, chairman of the election commission Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani lauded the services of Omarkhil.

Nuristani said Omarkhil quit his office for peace, stability and the larger interest of the country.

The former foreign minister’s team Sunday released audio recordings which Abdullah’s supporters said contained evidence of fraud against Omarkhil.

Partial results of the June 14 presidential runoff were due to come out June 21, while the preliminary results of the runoff will be announced July 2 and the final results July 22, according to election commission officials.