KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – Ashraf Ghani won a second term as president of Afghanistan, the country’s independent election commission announced Tuesday, more than four months after polls closed.
The commission said Ghani garnered 923,592 votes, or 50.64%, in the election that took place last Sept. 28. His main challenger, the country’s chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, received 720,841 votes, or 39.52%.
Ghani and Abdullah head a fragile national unity government put together under U.S. pressure after both leaders claimed victory in Afghanistan’s 2014 elections. Results were repeatedly delayed amid accusations of misconduct and technical problems with counting ballots. The final vote tally was originally to be announced Nov. 7.
Hawa Alam Nuristani, head of the national election commission, said previously that 1.8 million Afghan citizens voted out of some 9.6 million eligible voters.
On Election Day, many Afghans found incomplete voters’ lists, unworkable biometric identification systems aimed at curbing fraud, and in some cases hostile election workers.
In Kabul, it was rare to see a crowded polling center. Afghans who had patiently lined up before voting centers were opened, in some locations found that election officials had yet to arrive by opening time.
The election commission tried to launch a ballot recount in November but Abdullah halted the attempt, saying he wouldn’t let his observers participate. Thousands of his supporters rallied against what they said were fake ballots and the controversial recount had seemed set to favor Ghani.
In December, however, Abdullah agreed to allow a ballot recount in provinces where his supporters had stopped the process.