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Afghan election scenario gets murkier

In the run upto to the Afghan elections and soon after the elections, there were wide-spread allegations of election fraud, of corrupt practices, and downright stealing of the election. The Afghan elections were structured that if no candidate got more than 50% of the vote, there would be a run-off to decide the final winner. Soon after the election, the current President, Hamid Karzai, declared that he was the winner by a significant margin, a claim disputed by the supporters of his challenger, the former Afghan foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah. That claim has not been settled till late, and it is of no credit to the Election Commission that it has allowed the process to continue till now. This happens at a time when the credibility of the Government is low, since it does not control an increasing larger section of the country (the resurgent Taliban is fighting in larger sections of the country), with the Government being accused of corruption and of being unable to provide effective governance, with large sections of the population claiming that they do not have basic facilities.
At such a time, the Government, and its supporters among the major powers can ill afford to have this kind of instability in the country, but the fact is that the allegations of voter fraud have served to reduce the legitimacy of Hamid Karzai, and his Government, which is also not fully supported by the United States.


At such a time, the independent election commission is also undergoing turmoil, with the recent firing of the top deputy of the UN (Peter Galbraith) over allegations of voter fraud. An important member of the election commission, and a native Afghan, Judge Mustafa Barakzai, resigned from the commission claiming that his views were ignored (link to article):

Complaints of irregularities have dogged the presidential elections. The top United Nations official in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, admitted Sunday that the vote was marred by “widespread fraud.” Eide’s recently fired deputy Peter Galbraith told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday that Eide earlier refused to share details of voting irregularities with Afghan election officials. Galbraith also said his former boss could have prevented some fraud by closing unsecured polling stations.
With findings of the fraud complaints investigation upcoming, Galbraith said he anticipates the commission will determine that Afghan President Hamid Karzai will not have enough votes to avoid a runoff. “I think there’s a very strong likelihood that the election complaints commission will find that he’s below 50 percent, and then the question is whether Karzai will accept that decision and whether the Independent Election Commission, which is not independent but a pro-Karzai body, will accept that decision,” Galbraith said.

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