KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Representatives of both presidential candidates in Afghanistan have now joined the internationally supervised audit of ballots from the June runoff, an election official said Monday.
The process is a key step toward insuring a peaceful transfer of power and determining the successor to Hamid Karzai, the only president the country has known since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that ousted the Taliban.
Election commission spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said observers from the team of former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah also joined the audit on Monday. On Sunday, when the audit resumed after a holiday break, only representatives from former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai were on hand.
Preliminary results from the June 14 runoff showed Ahmadzai well ahead of Abdullah, but both sides alleged fraud. The audit of the more than 8 million votes is likely to take weeks.
In other developments, the National Security Council — the country's top security body, chaired by Karzai — accused neighboring Pakistan of fomenting instability across Afghanistan. A statement after the meeting claimed the Pakistani military maintains a presence among Afghan Taliban insurgents.
Pakistan has denied such accusations in the past. The Afghan council offered no evidence for its claims.
"The National Security Council considers these actions by the Pakistani army a clear violation of Afghanistan's territorial integrity," the statement said.
The Foreign Ministry in Kabul also summoned Pakistan's ambassador for a formal protest over "rocket and artillery shelling" from across the border, saying the Pakistani military is "openly supporting the terrorists."