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Afghan vote count impasse no closer to resolution, two months after poll

DPA
Kabul
Two months after presidential elections in Afghanistan, a meeting aimed at finding a solution on how to handle 300,000 disputed votes failed to bring about a breakthrough on Sunday.
The votes could determine the winner of the race and finally end the political limbo the country was left in following the September 28 elections. The announcement of the results has been repeatedly delayed.
Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) called the meeting with representatives of the presidential candidates, election observers, civil society groups and political parties.
The meeting was aired live on several news channels and lasted around four hours.
The main challenger to incumbent President Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah, has tried to discredit the vote count process.
He earlier demanded the IEC clarify and separate around 300,000 potentially fraudulent votes before a recount took place. Abdullah’s team believes those ballots should not be counted in the official results.
The IEC, however, started the recount without setting aside those 300,000 disputed votes. That led to the recount being blocked by Abdullah’s followers - sometimes by force - in several provinces.
In seven out of 34 Afghan provinces the recount could not be held.  IEC commissioners on Sunday cited various technical reasons as to why they are unable to determine the validity of the 300,000 votes in question.