Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani has said he is committed to an “intensive and extensive” audit of votes to resolve a political standoff with his rival, Abdullah Abdullah.
His comments on Friday came before the start of a meeting with the US secretary of state, John Kerry, who had previously threatened to with-hold US aid if either candidate tried to seize power.
Ghani, a former finance minister, said he hoped that accepting an audit would restore faith in the election process.
“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 in,” Ghani said.
Kerry, who arrived in Kabul to meet both candidates, said Afghanistan’s transition to a self-reliant state hung in the balance after the disputed election, and urged Afghan officials to focus on auditing the vote count to underpin its legitimacy.
Preliminary results from a June 14 runoff round put Ghani in the lead with 56.4 percent of votes – almost one million votes ahead of Abdullah.
Abdullah, who got the most votes in the first round, rejected the result, calling it a “coup” against the people and claiming widespread fraud. His aides have threatened to set up an alternative administration.
Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, said that many Afghans were worried the political deadlock would cause further instability in the country.
“Afghans are very concerned about all of this uncertainty, nobody is buying anything, the shops are very quiet … they want to wait and see how all of this is going to pan out,” Glasse said.
The outgoing president, Hamid Karzai, has promised that the inauguration would go ahead on August 2. Al Jazeera