By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) - Amid pervasive allegations of voting fraud, Afghanistan's Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) on Monday began documenting complaints against the recently-announced preliminary results of landmark presidential polls.
IECC deputy head Mawlavi Din Muhammad Azimi told reporters in the capital Kabul that three days remained for candidates to file documented objections, adding that it would take the IECC weeks to address the complaints before final results are announced.
Based on the initial result, incumbent President Ashraf Ghani secured the minimum required 50%-plus-one vote in the first round, obviating a runoff vote. Addressing the nation after the results on Sunday, Ghani said his "state-builder" electoral team would unite and rebuild the war-ravaged country.
"We will connect and unite all Afghans. We will end the crisis and all divisions by building a responsible government", said Ghani, who also vowed to lodge complaints against vote irregularities.
According to IECC sources, thousands of complaints have already been lodged by different candidates.
Ghani's main rival, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, came second with 39.5%, while veteran Mujahedeen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar recieved 3.8% of total votes cast. Both have rejected initial results.
"We have asked the independent Election Commission to re-hold the election in those areas where biometric devices were stolen, and we ask the people responsible be punished," Hekmatyar told a press conference on Monday.
It took the IECC months to release preliminary results amid allegations of fraud and reports of technical glitches.
Similarly troubled presidential polls in 2014 delivered a weak and divided National Unity Government under Ghani and Abdullah when the country was pushed to the edge of disorder amid the withdrawal of some 100,000 foreign troops.