The credibility of Afghanistan’s controversial election has been further weakened by claims that a third of all votes for President Hamid Karzai may be fraudulent.
Turnout was announced today, but at 38,70 per cent it is somewhat less than the West had wanted to give the election an air of legitimacy. EU observers said a huge number of votes are in doubt.
“At least 1,5 million are suspect, suspect not fraudulent, not necessarily fraudulent but certainly suspect,” said Philippe Morillon, the head of the EU observer team. “It is the job of the electoral complaints commission in cooperation with the electoral commission to verify these suspect votes, to eliminate those seen as fraudulent.”
President Karzai is on the verge of being declared the winner of last month’s election. His team has dismissed the allegations as irresponsible, of taking only a partial view of the situation, and said only a miracle could defeat him now.
His rival, Abdullah Abdullah, has claimed widespread ballot-rigging especially in Karzai’s southern heartland. In some polling stations, every single vote cast went to Karzai, often in suspiciously round numbers like 500. The allegations have fuelled growing unease in the West about the mission to impose democracy in Afghanistan, and make it harder for political leaders to support Karzai while his re-election is shrouded in doubt.