Scores of supporters of Afghan presidential candidate and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai celebrate Monday in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Afghan officials released preliminary election results Monday showing Ahmadzai well in the lead for the presidency but said no winner can be declared because millions of ballots were being audited for fraud.
The announcement came as Ahmadzai is locked in a standoff with his rival Abdullah Abdullah, who has refused to accept any results until all fraudulent ballots are invalidated. A spokesman for his campaign rejected the results and called the decision to release them “a coup.”
The United States issued a strongly worded statement cautioning the results “are not final or authoritative” and urging electoral authorities to “implement a thorough audit whether or not the two campaigns agree.”
The Independent Election Commission acknowledged that vote rigging had occurred and said ballots from about 7,000 more of the nearly 23,000 polling stations would be audited.