Afghan president Ashraf Ghani wins second term, election commission confirms

The commission said Ghani garnered 923,592 votes, just over half the total votes.

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By Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ashraf Ghani has 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 percent, in the election that took place last Sept. 28. Challenger and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah received 720,841 votes, or 39.52 percent.

Election results were repeatedly delayed amid accusations of misconduct and technical problems with counting ballots. The final vote tally count had originally set to be announced Nov. 7.

Hawa Alam Nuristani had said previously said that 1.8 million Afghan citizens voted in the election out of some 9.6 million eligible.

The election commission tried to launch a ballot recount in November but Abdullah halted the attempt, saying he wouldn’t let his observers participate. He eventually allowed a recount to go forward earlier this month.

Thousands of Abdullah’s supporters had rallied in November against what they said were fake ballots. The controversial recount had seemed set to favor Ghani.

Abdullah in December agreed to allow a ballot recount in provinces where his supporters had stopped the process for almost a month. The election commission had tried to launch a ballot recount in November but Abdullah halted the attempt, saying he wouldn't let his observers participate.

Ghani and Abdullah head a fragile national unity government that was put together under U.S. pressure after both leaders claimed victory in Afghanistan’s last elections in 2014.

The election results come days after U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced a truce agreement between the United States and the Taliban that could lead to the withdrawal of American troops from the country.

Ghani first ran for president in 2009, capturing barely a quarter of the votes. He ran again in 2014 in what was considered a deeply flawed and corrupt exercise.

Ghani, from central Logar Province was born May 19, 1949. He holds a doctorate in Anthropology from Columbia University and first went to the U.S. as a high school exchange student.

Except for a brief teaching stint at Kabul University in the early 1970s, Ghani lived in the United States, where he was an academic until joining the World Bank as a senior adviser in 1991.