• Reuters

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Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, who pulled out of the race alleging vote-rigging, indicated he might return to the process after a senior election official resigned Monday.

Abdullah, one of two candidates through to a second-round vote on June 14, had accused Independent Election Commission Secretariat head Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhil of fraud during the ballot count.

Amarkhil denied that but resigned a day after Abdullah’s party aired what it said were intercepted phone conversations in which he ordered officials to stuff ballot boxes.

“Now that the announcement was made . . . the door is open for us to get to talk to the commission about conditions and circumstances which will help the process,” Abdullah said.

He has previously said certain conditions must be discussed before he would return to the election, including potentially repeating the vote in some areas.

His withdrawal last week threatened to unleash an ethnic power struggle. Abdullah, a former leader with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, is of mixed heritage but his support base is with the Tajik community, while his election rival, ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani, is an ethnic Pashtun.

International Election Commission chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani said he had not asked the official to resign and Amarkhil himself said the audio recording was a fake and he was quitting “for the sake of confidence building.”

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