World

Ashraf Ghani declared winner of Afghanistan election more than 4 months after voting

Ashraf Ghani has won a second term as president of Afghanistan, the country's independent election commission announced Tuesday, more than four months after polls closed.

Election results were originally scheduled to be released in early November

Ashraf Ghani spent much of his adult life outside Afghanistan, but returned this century to run for president. According to long-delayed results, he has won election for a second time. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Ashraf Ghani has won a second term as president of Afghanistan, the country's independent election commission announced Tuesday, more than four months after polls closed.

The Independent Election Commission said Ghani garnered 923,592 votes, or 50.64 per cent, in the election that took place last Sept. 28. Challenger and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah received 720,841 votes, or 39.52 per cent.

Election results were repeatedly delayed amid accusations of misconduct and technical problems with counting ballots. The final vote tally was originally to be announced Nov. 7.

Hawa Alam Nuristani, head of the election commission, had said previously that 1.8 million Afghan citizens voted in the election out of some 9.6 million eligible.

The election commission tried to launch a ballot recount in November but Abdullah halted the attempt, saying he wouldn't let his observers participate. Thousands of his supporters rallied against what they said were fake ballots. The controversial recount had seemed set to favour Ghani.

Abdullah campaign denounces result

Abdullah in December agreed to allow a ballot recount in provinces where his supporters had stopped the process.

Ghani and Abdullah head a fragile national unity government that was put together under U.S. pressure after both leaders claimed victory in Afghanistan's last elections in 2014.

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has raised allegations of misconduct in the past two elections. (Rahmat Gul/The Associated Press)

"We are out of the election process. Neither the institution called IEC has legitimacy in our eyes, nor the result they might announce," the head of Abdullah Abdullah's campaign team, Fazal Ahmad Manawi, said on Twitter just before Tuesday's announcement.

"The reason for this lack of legitimacy is clear to all as much as the sun is. Time will show justice to all of these injustices done."

The election results come days after U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper announced a temporary truce agreement between the United States and the Taliban that could lead to the withdrawal of American troops from the country.

Ghani, 70, first ran for president in 2009, capturing barely a quarter of the votes. He ran again in 2014 in what was considered a deeply flawed and corrupt exercise.

Ghani, from central Logar Province, holds a doctorate in Anthropology from Columbia University and first went to the U.S. as a high school exchange student.

Except for a brief teaching stint at Kabul University in the early 1970s, Ghani lived in the United States, where he was an academic until joining the World Bank as a senior adviser in 1991.

He returned to Afghanistan after 24 years when the Taliban were ousted by the U.S.-led coalition. Ghani was head of Kabul University until he joined President Hamid Karzai's government as finance minister.

In 2010, he led the lengthy process to transfer security of the country from U.S.-led coalition forces to the Afghanistan National Security Forces, which took effect in 2014.

With files from Reuters

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