The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

Afghan Elections Update – Irregularities & Taliban Interference

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Well the elections (and my birthday) came and went without any major upheaval. Though voter turnout was low due to fear of increased violence, the Taliban failed to derail the elections all together and they were carried out. Whether they were carried out “freely and fairly” is another question. Several allegations have been made that there were considerable irregularities. According to Jon Boone for the Guardian, a UN official claims that fraud may have affected one in five ballots, that’s 20%:

Concerns were mounting that electoral fraud in the south and east of the country, where few election monitors dared to tread, could help push the number of votes cast for the president, Hamid Karzai, over 50%, handing him victory without the need for a second-round contest. Partial results are expected to be announced later.One UN official predicted that anywhere between 10% and 20% of the votes cast were illegal, and that negotiations would have to be made to “massage down” Karzai’s victory margin. Independent election monitors said almost 700 complaints had been received, around 50 of which were earmarked for immediate investigation because of the risk they could change the outcome.

This seems to be roughly consistent with Abdullah Abdullah’s claims of “thousands of violations around the country”, however, as The Majlis points out, this shouldn’t necessarily matter much:

And here’s the kicker: even if this U.N. official is right, even if 20% of the ballots are illegal, it won’t matter. Karzai has about 3 million votes right now, according to the New York Times, out of 4.5 million that have been counted (90% of the total). He would still lead the field after a 20% “massage” — his nearest challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, has 1.5 million votes.

He would be perilously close to the 50 percent threshold for a runoff vote, but with 500,000 ballots left to count, he would probably pick up enough votes to propel him over that mark.

Al Jazeera also seems to have some interesting footage of voter abductions in the wake of the elections. Supposedly a Taliban checkpoint sprang up along Afghanistan’s main highway (the fact that they were able to do this belies the ongoing state of insecurity in Afghanistan) manned by the Taliban. At this checkpoint, people passing through were having their fingers checked for ink, to see if they’ve voted, and then accused of “standing in line with the Jews” and marched off blindfolded to some location. I must say though, good job by the cameraman to capture this footage, see it below:

All in all, unless more information comes in to change things, it appears Karzai has this in the bag. It’s unlikely that any irregularities will cause protests of the calibre that occurred in the far more politically charged Iran after the June 12th election.


Written by alexlobov

August 25, 2009 at 2:40 pm

4 Responses

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  1. […] the rest here: Afghan Elections Update – Irregularities & Taliban Interference … Share and […]

  2. “freely and fairly” no longer exist in any country. Those in power seem hell bent on maintaining that power at any cost, even openly fraudulent elections.

    Election Fraud

    August 29, 2009 at 12:48 am

  3. Election Fraud,

    You may decry the ease with which those who have power can maintain it, even in so-called democratic societies but, nevertheless, there are certain standards that are met in those societies that are not met elsewhere. I’m not going to suggest that those standards are the be-all and end-all but when the media reports that the ‘freeness’ and ‘fairness’ of an election has been called into question, it is usually those standards that have not been met.


    August 29, 2009 at 2:37 am

  4. […] between Abdullah Abdullah and Hamid Karzai, after the first round of its elections were considered pretty bloody fraudulent and reduced Mr. Karzai’s share of the ballots to 47%. The outcome of this run-off is not yet […]

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