Both rivals in Afghanistan's presidential election claim victory in a repeat of 2014

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Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah casts his vote at a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan September 28, 2019. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the country's chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, have both claimed victory in a weekend presidential election, a scene reminiscent of the last vote in 2014.

Though preliminary overall results aren't expected for another three weeks, Abdullah told a news conference in Kabul on September 30 that by his count, he won such a clear-cut victory in the balloting that a second-round runoff won't be needed.

That followed a claim by Ghani's running mate, Amrullah Saleh, that the incumbent had won a clear first-ballot victory.

"The information that we have received shows that 60 to 70 percent of people voted [for] us," Saleh was quoted by Voice of America as saying.

Neither side offered any evidence to back up their claims, raising concerns that the war-torn country is headed for a similar situation that arose from the 2014 election, where the same two candidates made competing claims of victory.


That led to months of turmoil that was ultimately settled through a power-sharing deal brokered by the United States that brought a deeply unpopular and fractured national-unity government to power.

"The situation in 2014 was different. We were the winning team at that time," Abdullah said on September 30.

"Now it is 2019 and I have announced, and I am reiterating, that only legal votes will be accepted by us," he added.

Fifteen candidates were on the ballot in the September 28 election, but the contest was widely seen as a two-horse race between Abdullah, 59, and Ghani, 70.

In a statement on September 30, EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini called on the candidates to respect the electoral timeline.

"We expect that the candidates exercise restraint, await the official announcement of preliminary and final results by [Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission, IEC] and submit any evidence-based complaints through the established institutional complaints mechanism," Mogherini said.

Around 9.6 million Afghans were registered to vote in the election, the fourth presidential vote since the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001.

The IEC said late on September 29 that it had counted more than 1.1 million votes in the election, which was marred by a spate of militant attacks across the country and reports of problems at polling stations.

The commission has said that an unofficial estimate of voter turnout in the election shows that a little more than 2 million voters cast ballots -- a sharp drop from the roughly 7 million who turned out for the last presidential election in 2014.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.


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A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.

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An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps

"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."

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(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.

At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.

Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.

"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."

She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."

It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.

The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.

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