Middle East/North Africa

Afghanistan president wins second term

The President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani won a second term leading the country, an independent election commission announced Tuesday.

However, Ghani's opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, also claimed victory, which could threaten the country's stability and the planned peace negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban, The Associated Press and The New York Times reported.  

The contested election, conducted on Sept. 28, found Ghani earned 50.64 percent, narrowly winning the race, while Abdullah had 39.5 percent support, according to the news outlets.

After the election results were announced, Ghani emphasized to a group of supporters in the capital the importance of negotiations with the Taliban.

"It's time to make Afghanistan united," he said, according to the AP.

But Abdullah and his supporters contest the results, citing various issues with the election and alleging it was plagued by fraud. 

"I asked those who believe in democracy, in a healthy future for this country, in citizens' rights to stand up to fraud and to not accept this fraudulent result," Abdullah said, according to the Times. "We are the winners based on clean votes, and we declare our victory. We will form the inclusive government."

The Taliban also disputed Ghani's win, calling the election a "fraud" and the Afghan government a "puppet" of the U.S.

"After the end of the invasion the Muslim people of Afghanistan will decide about their internal issues and will adopt their political faith," a statement from the Taliban said, according to the AP.

The election disagreement comes weeks ahead of when the Taliban and U.S. are supposed to sign a more permanent peace deal, potentially leading to troops returning home and the end of the longest war in U.S. history. 

Both leaders also claimed they won in 2014, and the U.S. assisted in developing a unity government.

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