Tentative Results in Afghan Presidential Runoff Spark Protests

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from The New York Times,

Afghanistan’s already tumultuous election grew more perilous on Monday after the announcement of preliminary presidential runoff results that were rejected by the candidate Abdullah Abdullah, leading some of his most powerful supporters to call for protests and even the forming of a breakaway government.

In releasing the preliminary results, which showed Ashraf Ghani roughly a million votes ahead of Mr. Abdullah, with 8.1 million ballots cast, the Afghan election commission cautioned that there was no winner yet, as millions of votes could be subjected to a special audit for fraud.

But the caveat seemed to have little effect on many of the candidates’ supporters. After nightfall, Ghani backers went into the streets, unleashing celebratory gunfire in several cities. Some were already hailing Mr. Ghani as the president-elect.

At the same time, there were reports that Abdullah supporters were demonstrating in Kabul, denouncing a “coup” by the election commission after his campaign tersely rejected the election’s legitimacy. One video posted on social media showed dozens of men, including police officers in uniform, chanting “Long live President Abdullah” and spraying gunfire.

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