Boss Tweed would be proud.
Tainted Afghan Vote Tally Gives Karzai Majority
Afghanistan’s election commission announced a tally giving President Hamid Karzai a majority of votes in the Aug. 20 presidential election — potentially enough to avoid a runoff and claim victory — after the commission decided to include thousands of suspected fraudulent ballots that helped to put him over the top.
The commission’s decision came in response to intense lobbying by aides to Mr. Karzai’s campaign, two election commission officials said. It also came in defiance of a direct plea from the U.S. to exclude fraudulent votes. Election commission members who wanted to ensure a Karzai victory played a pivotal role in seeing that suspect votes were counted, one commission official said.
Hours before the announcement, United Nations-sponsored election investigators ordered a recount of ballots from suspect polling places because of “clear and convincing evidence of fraud.” Other candidates angrily rejected the tally, which gave Mr. Karzai 54.1% of the votes with nearly 92% of the ballots counted. His nearest challenger, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, has 28.3%, according to the commission.
“We have been saying from the beginning that the [commission] has been proceeding in an illegal manner and we won’t accept” the results, said Dr. Abdullah’s campaign spokesman, Fazel Sangcharaki. The candidate has discouraged his supporters from violent protests, but widespread disaffection in Dr. Abdullah’s northern strongholds risks fracturing parts of Afghanistan that back the central government.
One election commission official, deputy chief electoral officer Zakari Barakzai, told of unspecified pressure on the commission to include suspect votes. “The results we have so far are only half-clean,” he said.
President Hamid Karzai takes 100% of votes in opposition stronghold
In the southern Afghan district of Shorabak, the tribesmen gathered shortly before last month’s presidential election to discuss which candidate they would back. After a debate they chose to endorse Abdullah Abdullah, President Hamid Karzai’s leading opponent.
The tribal leaders prepared to deliver a landslide for Abdullah – but it never happened. They claim Ahmed Wali Karzai, the president’s brother and leader of the Kandahar provincial council, detained the local governor and closed all the district’s 46 polling sites on election day.
The ballot boxes were taken back to the district headquarters where, tribal leaders allege, they were stuffed with ballots by local policemen. A total of 23,900 ballots were finally sent off to Kabul, the capital – every one of them a vote for Karzai.
The alleged fraud, which Ahmed Wali Karzai denies, was the most blatant example among hundreds of incidents that have threatened to make a mockery of the election.
The sheer scale and audacity of the cheating, which includes supposedly “state-sponsored” ballot-stuffing, vote burning, intimidation and the closure of polling stations in antigovernment areas, has overwhelmed the country’s fledgling Electoral Complaints Commission.
Its staff are battling with more than 2,600 reports of vote-rigging, including at least 650 deemed serious enough “materially” to influence the result.
“This is a blatant violation of the procedure and I think it is stealing in daylight,” Abdullah said yesterday.
His aides say privately that if Karzai wins the 50.1% of votes needed for victory in the first round, they won’t accept the result. Abdullah said he intended to use all legal means to challenge any Karzai victory; his supporters talked menacingly of “Iran-style protests with Kalashnikovs”.
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U.S. Calls For ‘Rigorous Vetting’ of Afghan Election Fraud Allegations
U.S. in Delicate Spot as Fraud Claims Mount in Afghan Vote
So, we’re fighting and dying in Afghanistan, not only to track down, kill or capture, and disrupt the networks of al Qaeda and their protecters, the Taliban, but also to provide some semblance of a stable democratic national government that can eventually fend for itself and keep Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists hell bent on attacking Western interests worldwide.
And this is the thanks we get, widespread election fraud on behalf of Hamid Karzai, the candidate we’ve backed since we first came to Afghanistan? How awkward and embarrassing is this situation for the United States?
/and, more importantly, what’s Obama going to do about it?
Filed under: Blog Entry | Tagged: Abdullah Abdullah, Afghan Elections, Afghanistan, Afghanistan Election Commission, Ahmed Wali Karzai, Al Qaeda, Ballot Stuffing, Barack Obama, Boss Tweed, Election Fraud, Electoral Complaints Commission, Fazel Sangcharaki, Hamid Karzai, Kabul, Kandahar, Kandahar Provincial Council, Shorabak, Taliban, Tammany Hall, United Nations, Vote Burning, Vote Rigging, Zakari Barakzai | 1 Comment »