July 7, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced the preliminary results of the country’s presidential election. According to the IEC’s chairman, Ashraf Ghani received 56.44 percent of the votes in the June 14 runoff; he had placed second during the first round of elections, with 31.56 percent. His opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, who fell just short of an outright majority in the first round with 45.00 percent, only received 43.56 percent in the runoff. The fact is that although the magnitude and scope of the fraud is unclear thus far, the integrity of the election has been tainted beyond repair. This has caused some, including Abdullah’s vice presidential running mate, Mohammad Mohaqiq, to describe the preliminary results as a “coup” against voters. Election observers have already noted that the number of votes cast in the runoff was not anywhere close to the 8.1 million quoted by the IEC; nor have they accepted the notion that 37.6 percent of that number reflects votes of women.
When he announced the preliminary results, IEC Chairman Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani confirmed the fraud and vote rigging, saying: “We cannot ignore the technical problems and fraud during the election process. Some governors and government officials were involved in fraud.” In his July 7 press conference, Nuristani promised a more thorough investigation prior to the announcement of the final results on July 22.
Thus far, however, President Hamid Karzai’s government and the IEC have failed to investigate specific assertions of fraud, and Nuristani’s promises of renewed scrutiny are no longer sufficient to satiate frustrations. Although Abdullah’s camp has provided recordings that, at best, allege irregularities and, at worse, implicate the chief elections officer, Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail, and Wardak Governor Attaullah Khogyani, the IEC has refused to aggressively pursue such leads. To his credit, Ghani has indicated that he would agree to an audit of 7,100 polling places. This review of more than 3 million ballots, however, may not be sufficient if it does not specifically target the areas that Abdullah’s team alleges were heavily influenced by fraud.
Full Article: In Afghanistan, Third Round of Elections or Coup.