KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah defiantly told thousands of supporters Tuesday that he will declare victory in the country's election, claiming massive fraud was responsible for preliminary results that put his rival in the lead. The United States warned both camps against trying to seize power, saying international financial and security support was at stake.
The turmoil came as violence escalated around the country. A suicide bomber struck Afghan and foreign forces near a clinic in the eastern province of Parwan, killing at least 16 people, including four Czech soldiers.
Abdullah said he received calls from President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and he was told that Kerry would be flying to the Afghan capital on Friday in a bid to help defuse the crisis. State Department officials accompanying Kerry in Beijing declined to comment on his travel plans.
Abdullah told his supporters that the results of the election were fraudulent, but asked them to give him a few more days to negotiate.
"We denounce and do not accept the results of the fraudulent vote. I assure you people of Afghanistan that I will sacrifice for you, but I will never accept a fraudulent government," he told his supporters, many angry over the result. "We announce that only the government elected through clean votes will come to power."
The Afghan Independent Election Commission on Monday released preliminary results from the June 14 runoff showing former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai well in the lead for the presidency but said no winner could be declared because millions of ballots were being audited for fraud.
According to the preliminary results, Ahmadzai had about 4.5 million votes, or 56 percent, while Abdullah had 3.5 million votes, or 44 percent. Turnout was more than 50 percent.
That was a sharp turnaround from the first round of voting on April 5 when Abdullah garnered the most votes with 46 percent to Ahmadzai's 31.6 percent but failed to get the majority needed to avoid a runoff vote.
Abdullah has refused to accept any results from the second round until all fraudulent ballots are invalidated.
Ahmadzai, a U.S.-educated former finance minister and World Bank official, said he also had spoken to Kerry on the telephone.
"We welcome him (Kerry) coming here, but the real responsibility is up to us and we are hopeful that we will fulfill all our responsibilities," he said at a news conference at his home in Kabul. "We are prepared to engage in political discussion in order to make sure that we move to insure the legitimacy of the process, its fairness and the acceptance of its results."
He also rejected the idea of parallel governments, which has been raised by some Abdullah supporters.
"Talk of parallel governments will remain in the level of talk, because the historic responsibility that his excellency Dr. Abdullah and I as people who have submitted ourselves to the will of the people of Afghanistan have is to ensure the stability of this country and the legitimacy of the regime to which we have devoted our lives."
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