With Afghanistan’s next presidential election just five months away, authorities say they are facing a possible repeat of the abuses that have discredited the country’s efforts to build a democracy. Election officials say they can only estimate how many voters are really on the rolls. Added to the confusion are millions of additional registration cards from the elections of the past. Taliban threats cast a further damper. “This is the reality of this country. We are conducting elections in a difficult situation, with poor security, but we must conduct elections,” said Noor Mohammed Noor, the head of the Independent Election Commission. “It is the only way for our country to succeed.” A credible election would do much for the West’s efforts to foster democracy in Afghanistan after allegations of fraud marred the 2009 vote that handed President Hamid Karzai a second term. He is banned by the constitution from running for a third.
The 2009 election, which gave President Hamid Karzai a second term, was severely marred by allegations of fraud. Suspicions ran from ballot-box-stuffing and bogus registration cards to men from deeply conservative areas turning up at polling stations with handfuls of registration cards to vote on behalf of female relatives, arguing that custom forbade the women to appear in public.
In New York, the U.N. General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on Afghanistan that underlined the need “to strengthen and improve Afghanistan’s electoral process.”