Afghan parliamentary polls affected by widespread fraud

Kabul, Sept.25 (ANI): Evidence is emerging that last weekend's parliamentary election in Afghanistan was affected by widespread fraud, so much so, that it could affect the results in a third of the country's provinces.

The Election Complaints Commission has confirmed that it has received over 3,000 complaints since last Saturday's election.

So far, they have registered case files on nearly 1,800 of those complaints, 58 percent of which were considered serious enough to affect the outcome of the balloting. That may change in the course of investigations but that preliminary figure is high, election monitors said.

The complaints are not evenly distributed and were markedly worse in 13 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. In those 13, at least half the complaints were deemed to be high priority - forecasting bitter fights over the outcome.

According to the New York Times, the complaints to provincial election commissions have so far included video clips showing ballot stuffing; the strong-arming of election officials by candidates' agents; and even the handcuffing and detention of election workers.

In some places, election officials themselves are alleged to have carried out the fraud; in others, government employees did, witnesses said.

Many of the complaints have come from candidates and election officials, but were supported by Afghan and international election observers and diplomats.

In the southern province of Kandahar, candidates accused President Hamid Karzai's influential half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, of drawing up a list of winners even before the September 18 election for Parliament was carried out.

The widespread tampering and bare-knuckle tactics of some candidates has raised serious questions about the effort to build a credible government that can draw the support of Afghans and the Obama administration and its NATO partners as they re-evaluate their commitment to the war.

American and international diplomats kept their distance from the tide of candidate complaints this week, and NATO and American Embassy officials said little other than that the election was an Afghan process and that it was the Afghans who were responsible for its outcome. (ANI)

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