Afghan vote fraud allegations mount

Afghan vote fraud allegations mount

Meanwhile, the chief fraud investigator said some of the allegations, if true, were serious enough to influence the outcome. The controversy threatens to discredit an election that the Obama administration considers a key step in a new strategy to turn back the Taliban insurgency.

It could also delay the formation of a new government and fuel growing doubts in the United States about whether it is worth continuing to fight the war in Afghanistan. Millions of Afghans voted on Thursday in the country’s second-ever direct presidential election.

Final certified results will not come until next month although partial preliminary figures are expected on Tuesday. If none of the 36 candidates wins a majority, the top two finishers will face a runoff in October.

Karzai’s top challenger, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, widened allegations of fraud against Karzai and his government, saying ballots marked for the incumbent were coming in from volatile southern districts where no vote was held, and that turnout was being reported as 40 per cent in areas where only 10 per cent of voters cast ballots.

Abdullah said a border security commander in the Spin Boldak district of southern Kandahar province, Gen Abdul Raziq, used his house as a polling station and stuffed the ballot box for Karzai. Raziq denied the charges, saying that everyone in Spin Boldak voted in the appointed polling centres, which were schools and mosques. He said he and his border police were busy maintaining security and did nothing to tamper with the process.

Abdullah said he hoped fraud would be prevented through legal appeals with the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC). But he also said he had no faith in the chief of the Afghan Independent Election Commission, a Karzai appointee.

UN support

Meanwhile, The United Nations’ special envoy to Afghanistan Kai Eide on Monday threw his full support behind the ECC as the organisation investigates allegations of fraud during last week’s polls.

The ECC said it had registered 225 complaints, of which 35 were high priority and could affect the outcome of the results. Eide said there was no doubt that irregularities had taken place and stressed it was critical for the whole electoral process to detect fraud.

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