A top Afghan election official resigned Monday after the leading presidential candidate leaked tapes allegedly featuring the official discussing ways to rig the country’s upcoming presidential election.
Ziaulhaq Amarkhil, the secretary general of Afghanistan’s election commission, announced his resignation at a news conference after facing more than a week of intense pressure from presidential front-runner Abdullah Abdullah, the New York Times said.
Abdullah, pictured above, accused Amarkhil of mass fraud.
The authenticity of the leaked tapes cannot be verified. On them, a man the Abdullah campaign claims is Amarkhil, tells subordinates to “stuff the sheep,” which Abdullah said is code for stuffing the ballot boxes.
Amarkhil has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and claims the leaked tapes are fake. But he resigned, he said, “for the sake of the country and for national unity.”
Abdullah has accused his opponent, Ashraf Ghani, of colluding with the election commission and President Hamid Karzai to rig the election.
On Monday, a spokesman for Ghani told the New York Times he supported Amarkhil’s decision to resign.
In southeastern Afghanistan, some provinces saw turnout in the presidential voting that was double or triple the votes cast in the first round.
The election commission said Monday it would conduct a partial recount of five provinces where Abdullah has the most concerns about possible voter fraud.
The United Nations, at the request of President Karzai and Abdullah, agreed to help with the recounts.
Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Blog and can be reached here.