The US President, Barack Obama, on Tuesday called the leading Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani during which he stressed on the need for political dialogue as last month’s election results are tabulated, a message he delivered to Dr Abdullah Abdullah during a previous telephone call, the White House said.
“With both, the President stressed that the United States expects a thorough review of all reasonable allegations of fraud to ensure a credible electoral process,” the White House said.
“He reiterated that all parties should avoid steps that undermine Afghan national unity and should come together to work toward a resolution that represents the will of the Afghan people and produces a government that can bring Afghanistan together,” the statement said.
“He also noted that there is no justification for resorting to violent or extra-constitutional means, which would result in the end of US assistance to Afghanistan. The President indicated that Secretary (of State, John) Kerry would continue his close consultations with the two candidates and President (Hamid) Karzai in the days to come,” the White House said.
The State Department said Kerry has been in touch with Karzai over the weekend over the developing political situation in Afghanistan. “I expect that will continue. And We are calling on both campaigns and their supporters to work towards a resolution which will produce a president who can bring Afghanistan together and govern effectively and avoid steps that undermine Afghan national unity,” the State Department Spokesperson, Jen Psaki, told reporters at her daily news conference.
“Clearly our engagement shows our level of commitment to not just the future of Afghanistan, but to a resolution to this issue,” she said.
Responding to questions about forming a parallel government, Psaki said there have been reports on the ground of plans to declare victory, to create a parallel government. “Both of those steps would be illegal, and it’s not a threat, it’s a fact that certainly we wouldn’t be able to provide the kind of support that is our preference to provide if those type of steps were taken,” she said.The White House said serious allegations of fraud have been raised, but they have yet to be adequately investigated. “So we reiterate that the preliminary results that were announced yesterday are neither final, nor authoritative, and may not even predict the final outcome, which could still change based on the findings of Afghan’s electoral bodies. We continue to urge the candidates to maintain calm among their supporters,” the White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, said.
“There is a process in place for adjudicating the concerns that have been raised about fraud in that election, and we’re encouraging both candidates and their supporters to allow that process to work its way through so that all of these claims or concerns that have been raised about fraud can be examined and adjudicated so that both sides can respect the outcome of this process,” he said.
Meanwhile the US Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, appeared before a key Congressional committee to brief them on the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. The briefing was closed door.
The Pentagon acknowledged that the situation in Afghanistan is complex and complicated. “There are complications. We're certainly monitoring that and watching that and encouraging both candidates to let the process continue. It doesn't do anybody any good to threaten violence. We want to get a complete audit of the votes, the second round returns before any kind of formal announcement is made one way or the other,” the Pentagon Press Secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby, said.
“We're not picking sides here. The only side that we're on is the side of the Afghan people. And I think we just need to keep focused on that. And there's absolutely no change in our commitment to the peaceful, stable future of Afghanistan,” Kirby said.