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The Killid Group

Worries, hopes shadow election results

Written by Malyar Sadeq Azad
Sunday, 03 October 2010 14:42

Worries, hopes shadow election results

Afghans are waiting for the results of the September 18 parliamentary elections amidst hopes and fears that the real decision of the Afghan voters could be obscured by fraud. However the head of the  Independent Election Commission, Dr Fazal Ahmed Manawi, said the extent of fraud was not of a magnitude as to bring the credibility of the elections into question.
While the IEC has acknowledged fraud in 620 polling stations, FEFA (Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan) reported fraud in approximately 30 provinces. According to Jandad Spinghar, the head of FEFA, the organization has submitted more than 400 instances of fraud with documentary evidence to the IEC.

The complaints mainly include stuffing ballot boxes with fake votes and using fake voting cards. Spinghar said ballot boxes had been stuffed in 280 polling stations in 28 provinces. In as many as 390 polling stations in 24 provinces, men cast proxy votes for women. Fake voting cards were used in over 350 polling stations.

"A number of powerful Afghan candidates and their supporters pressurized IEC staff and forced them to send all the electoral materials to them. In some cases the IEC staff could not be neutral in the performance of their duties but cooperated with powerful candidates in committing fraud," Spinghar said.

Kandahar fraud

One of the main provinces where there was massive fraud was the province of Kandahar, from where President Karzai's family hails. One of the parliamentary candidates from the area, Khalid Pashtoon, told Killid that the commander of the Border Police Force and a number of local government authorities committed fraud in support of their own candidates. The allegations were denied by General Abdul Razaq, Commander of the 4th Border Police in Kandahar province. But Pashtoon alleges that local officials had beaten a number of IEC staff in 12 districts in this province on Election Day and forced them to commit fraud. He also claimed that there were some videos and documentary evidence showing ballot-stuffing in some of the districts in this province by the same local officials.

According to Pashtoon, ballot boxes in the more secure areas of Kandahar received around 50-100 votes each whereas the ballot boxes in the more insecure areas had as many as 15,000 to 20,000 votes, especially areas under Taliban control. This, Pashtoon said, was clear evidence of the fact that the votes were fraudulent because it was impossible for a greater number of voters to come out in the Taliban areas.

"Even two days after Election, Commander of the Spin Boldak Border Police brought four ballot boxes which he himself has filled to the IEC office in Kandahar and told them these ballot boxes were those the IEC staff had forgotten and left behind," he said.

Pashtoon claims that a number of IEC staff were threatened and forced by a number of local armed commanders and that they are now ready to testify to the fraud committed in the polling stations under their supervision.

Complaints Commission

In the meantime, over 3500 complaints have been submitted and registered by the ECC (Electoral Complaints Commission) so far. According to Ahmad Zia Rafat, spokesman and member of ECC, 57% of these complaints are potentially of a serious nature and could alter the results if found to be true.

Kabul police arrested over 150 people who wanted to vote using fake voting cards on polling day but Senator Gul Rahman claimed that these people were freed again through powerful pressure.

"We have seen different counterfeits in this country including fake passports, fake money, fake national ID and others, now unfortunately we will also see fake representatives because all those committing fraud on Election Day and handed over to the police were freed," Rahman said.

But Abdul Zaher, Chief of Crime Investigation Department in Kabul completely denies Senator Gul Rahman's allegations and says that 14 of the 155 detained persons were being prosecuted while the others were freed. He told Killid those freed were labourers and poor people who were paid 300 Afs to vote for certain candidates using fake voting cards. The 14 being prosecuted were those who were actually responsible for distributing the fake cards.

President Karzai has requested the ECC to consider the electoral complaints neutrally and honestly, but an important question still remains: will ECC be able to invalidate the votes of powerful men?

In the meantime, FEFA and protesting candidates have threatened that if the ECC does not consider their documentary complaints, they will take action against the Commission.

But Rafat told Killid that the ECC considered all complaints with documentary evidences and investigated them fairly. "We will not make our decisions according to how powerful or weak the candidates are, but according to law and justice," he affirmed. According to him, there were fewer complaints in Paktika, Ghazni, Kapisa, Wardak and Panjshir in comparison with other provinces.

Though complaints are still pouring in, electoral observer organizations are optimistic that the changes in the ECC and the powers of the provincial electoral commissions will ensure justice. This however remains to be seen and will become clear only once the decisions of the ECC and the final results are announced.


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