WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States on Monday urged a "full and thorough" review of serious fraud allegations in Afghanistan's presidential election run-off and called for the two candidates to cooperate with the investigations.
Former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani was leading in preliminary election results, but Washington insisted the Afghan authorities not jump the gun and announce a winner before electoral bodies make their final findings.
"We have seen today's announcement of preliminary results and note that these figures are not final or authoritative and may not predict the final outcome, which could still change based on the findings of the Afghan electoral bodies," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. "Serious allegations of fraud have been raised and have yet to be adequately investigated," she added.
Preliminary results released Monday showed Mr Ghani with 56.4 per cent of the run-off vote compared to 43.5 per cent for former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah.
Election officials said the turnout was more than eight million in the June 14 vote out of an estimated electorate of 13.5 million voters - far higher than expected, and a figure likely to trigger further allegations of fraud from both sides.
"A full and thorough review of all reasonable allegations of irregularities is essential to ensure that the Afghan people have confidence in the integrity of the electoral process and that the new Afghan president is broadly accepted inside and outside Afghanistan," Ms Psaki said.
She said the two men's campaigns should fully cooperate with audits by the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission, "refrain from provocative statements or actions", and make no claims of victory based on the preliminary announcement.
"The United States does not support any individual candidate," Ms Psaki added.
"The continued support of the United States for Afghanistan requires that Afghanistan remains united and that the result of this election is deemed credible."
The disputed election has triggered a political crisis in war-ravaged Afghanistan, whose ties with Washington have been strained during the jockeying to succeed Hamid Karzai, who has held the reins for 13 years.
Last week, US President Barack Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan, Mr James Dobbins, stepped down after just over a year in office and will be replaced by his deputy Dan Feldman.