Afghan election: dispute 'could provoke sectarian divide'

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah at a rally in Kabul

Amid an electoral crisis in Afghanistan, the latest Taliban attack kills 16, including 4 Nato troops

LAST UPDATED AT 15:57 ON Tue 8 Jul 2014

Presidential hopeful Abdullah Abdullah has dismissed preliminary results in the Afghanistan's troubled election and declared victory, the BBC reports.

The results showed that his opponent, Ashraf Ghani, received 56.44 per cent of ballots in the second round of voting, but Abdullah has declared the results invalid. This is despite warnings from election officials that the official results are yet to be confirmed.

This year's elections, like previous ones in Afghanistan, have been marred by allegations of widespread fraud on both sides and the country is now facing a "full-blown electoral crisis", according to Foreign Policy.

The Taliban has staged several attacks throughout the election process. Today's suicide attack killed 16 people, including four Nato troops near Bagram Airfield, a major coalition military base north of Kabul.

A spokesperson for Abdullah told the BBC that he considers the preliminary results "a coup against people's votes".

"We will not accept a fraudulent result," he said. "Not today, not tomorrow, never,"

Abdullah, a former anti-Taliban resistance fighter, has vowed to set up a "parallel administration".

Abdullah's supporters were heard chanting "death to Ghani" at yesterday's rally, while Ghani's supporters were celebrating victory. 

Reaction to the preliminary results has let to renewed concern about Afghanistan's sectarian divide and the possibility of violence between Ghani's Pashtun supporters in the south and Abdullah's largely Tajik followers in the north.

There are fears that without a unifying leader that is accepted by both sides, Afghanistan could "split into fiefdoms along tribal fault lines, or even return to the bloody civil war of the 1990s", Maria Golovnina reports for Reuters. · 

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