Muted reaction to Afghan poll result despite warlord’s rallying cry
Kabul: Afghanistan vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum, a powerful warlord who has long held undue sway over the country’s politics, called on his supporters Wednesday to take to the streets to protest against the re-election of President Ashraf Ghani.
Ghani on Tuesday was declared winner of the presidential election — five months after it was held — prompting a muted response from the international community as well as ordinary Afghans weary of the dragged-out process.
The result was immediately rejected by Ghani’s main rival, former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, as well as his running mate Dostum.
Dostum served as Ghani’s running mate in 2014, but the burly 65-year-old Uzbek warlord has switched allegiances many times since joining the Afghan army in the 1970s — fighting for the Soviets against the mujahideen and then with the alliance that helped overthrow the Taliban.
He has been vice president mostly in name alone, having spent much of the past four years in exile after being accused of rape and kidnapping.
On Wednesday, Dostum said the announcement by the election commission amounted to a “coup”, and called on supporters to “hit the streets” to celebrate Abdullah’s victory.
“I, as your leader… ask you to support Dr Abdullah with all your life and power,” he said. – AFP