KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): Hundreds of people, including tribal elders, lawmakers and political activists, on Monday held a protest meeting in Khost City against Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s remarks about the voter turnout in provinces.
About 2000 people, including religious scholars and civil society activists, attended the protest gathering. The speakers condemned Abdullah’s remarks that the ballots cast in some provinces exceeded the number of registered voters there.
Humayun Humayun, who represents Khost in the Wolesi Jirga, told the gathering the people had participated in the runoff election by risking their lives. He said the Afghans, particularly the people of Loya Paktia, would not allow anyone to insult their votes.
A Mangal tribe leader Haider Gul Mangal said Abdullah realised he had fewer votes against his expectations in the runoff stage than the previous round and thus deliberately trying to earn a bad name to the election.
A Zadran tribe elder Maulvi Sardar Mohammad Zadran asked the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to ensure that people’s ballots were given due respect.
He strongly condemned Abdullah’s remarks, which he said amounted to insulting people’s turnout and votes in a number of provinces.
Another tribal elder Daud Khan Shaheedzai defended people’s vast participation in eastern and southeastern provinces in the runoff election. He said the people of Afghanistan would not allow anyone to play with their sentiments and votes.
Yet another speaker Khan Mohammad Qayum Khan warned if their votes were interfered with and their right denied, the authorities concerned should be ready to face a strong reaction from the masses.
Some reliable sources said more than 400,000 people in Khost had voted in the second round of presidential election on Saturday.
Of the votes cast in Khost, the sources said, presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani collected more than 390,000 votes and Abdullah more than 10,000.
IEC chief in Khost Khanzada Khan Afghan rejected if more votes had been cast in the province than the number of eligible voters.
He said 500,000 voter cards had been issued in Khost, where thousands of people could not vote due to ballot papers’ shortage.
Meanwhile, the Afghanistan National Movement party also condemned what it called inflammatory remarks by Abdullah.
In a statement, the party said the people had widely participated in the runoff election and no one had the right to accuse election officials without valid proof and documents.