Afghanistan presidential election: Rivals declare victory after record low turnout

The frontrunners in Afghanistan’s presidential race have both declared victory following the lowest election turnout since the Taliban were ousted.

Chief executive Abdullah Abdullah told reporters he had won outright, a day after incumbent Ashraf Ghani’s running mate said they were the winners.

Neither offered evidence in support.

The Independent Election Commission is still counting votes from Saturday’s ballot, with early data suggesting just 25% of registered voters took part.

The commission has counted 2.19m votes from 3,736 of the country’s approximately 4,000 polling centres so far. Afghanistan’s total population stands at about 37 million, with just 9.6 million registered voters.

However, preliminary results are not expected for almost three weeks, with Habiburrahman Nang, the electoral commission’s chief executive, telling journalists that no one should declare the outcome before it is officially announced.

Despite this, both Mr Abdullah and Mr Ghani’s teams have said they won, claiming to have garnered more than 50% of the vote – thereby avoiding a run-off round.

The competing claims are reminiscent of the 2014 election, when both men disputed the results, eventually agreeing to a power-sharing deal brokered by the US.

Why was turnout so low?

If the current figures are correct, turnout was lower than in Afghanistan’s three previous…

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