Afghanistan opposition candidate alleges fraud in recent presidential election

[JURIST] Afghan opposition candidate Abdullah Abdullah [BBC profile] on Sunday alleged widespread voter fraud in last Thursday's presidential election. Abdullah said his campaign has filed more than 100 complaints [Washington Post report] with the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) [official website] alleging ballot stuffing, inflated vote counts, and intimidation at the polls by supporters of incumbent President Hamid Karzai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Meanwhile, election observers have reported at least two instances of voters fingers, marked with indelible ink to avoid voter fraud, being cut off by Taliban insurgents [Los Angeles Times report]. The Free & Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) [official website] said the amputations took place in the southern Kandahar province, which has been plagued by violence. In preliminary findings [text, PDF; press release, PDF] released Saturday, the European Union Election Observation Mission to Afghanistan [official website] found that while the holding of the election was a victory for Afghan people, the process was marred with voter intimidation and security problems. Karzai is already claiming to have received more than 50 percent of the vote, meaning he would avoid a runoff with the second place candidate. Preliminary results are expected Tuesday, but official results are not due until September.

Karzai was elected in 2004 after serving nearly three years as interim leader. In March, the Supreme Court of Afghanistan [official website] decided to allow him to remain in office [JURIST report] until this August's general election. Under the Afghanistan Constitution [text], Karzai's term in office was to expire May 21, but the court held that since the extension of the election until August for security reasons was contrary to the constitution, the extension of Karzai's presidency would also be appropriate. Abdullah served as foreign minister in Karzai's cabinet until he was removed in 2006. Previous Afghan elections have also been marred by allegations of fraud, allowing officials to remain in power beyond the expiration of their terms while results were reviewed. In 2005, the official results of the assembly elections were not available for nearly two months due to allegations of fraud [JURIST reports]. During that election a joint electoral board formed between Afghanistan and UN found that the irregularities were not enough [JURIST report] to call the results into question.



 

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