Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Afghanistan on Friday for talks in an effort to broker a resolution to a disputed election that threatens to stir up ethnic tensions and undermine a peaceful political transition. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Kerry would meet with the country's two presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, as well as Afghan President Hamid Karzai and officials from the United Nations. The Independent Election Commission declared Ghani the winner of the second round of voting on June 14 with 56.44 percent of the vote, a difference of almost a million votes, according to preliminary results. The tally might change when the final official numbers are released on July 22.
Abdullah, who won the first round of voting, rejected the preliminary results as a "coup" against the Afghan people. Rathke said Kerry will press for a thorough review "of all reasonable allegations of fraud," which would entail doing significant additional audits. "While the United States does not support an individual candidate, we do support a credible, transparent and inclusive process that affirms the Afghan people's commitment to democracy, and that produces a president who can bring Afghanistan together and govern effectively," Rathke said.
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