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Kerry Seeks Solution to Afghan Vote Dispute

by VOA News July 11, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he has 'high hopes' for a quick resolution to disputed elections results in Afghanistan, where he arrived Friday to mediate an end to the political crisis between the two presidential candidates who are squabbling over the outcome of last month's runoff vote.

Abdullah Abdullah and his rival Ashraf Ghani both claim victory in the June 14 runoff to replace outgoing President Hamid Karzai. Preliminary results show Abdullah trailing Ghani by about 1 million votes, but Abdullah rejects those results and has alleged widespread fraud and ballot box stuffing.

Fraud allegations

In a meeting Friday with Kerry, Ghani agreed with U.S. calls for a thorough review of fraud allegations.

'Our commitment is to ensure that the election process enjoys the integrity and the legitimacy that the people of Afghanistan and the world will believe,' Ghani said. 'Therefore we believe in the most intensive and extensive audit possible to restore faith.'

Kerry also met with Abdullah following talks with Karzai and U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan Jan Kubis.

Shortly after arriving in Kabul overnight, Kerry said Friday that Afghanistan is at a 'very critical moment.'

The top U.S. diplomat said the future potential of the transition 'hangs in the balance, so we have a lot of work to do.'

Dozens of protestors blocked a road near Kabul's international airport Friday, with one man calling for a 'political settlement' between the candidates. Another said Afghanistan needed to resolve the election internally, without Kerry's help.

Power grab warning

The secretary had already warned Abdullah against using extra-legal means to grab power after his running mate talked about setting up a parallel government.

The United States says it does not take sides in the election, but does support a credible transparent process.

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