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Complaints of Afghan elections pour in

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 28 August 2009

Afghanistan's Electoral Complaints Commission receives more than 2,000 complaints of fraud in last week's presidential election, with over 200 serious enough to affect the result. Carl Dinnen reports.

Hamid Karzai after voting in the presidential election (Reuters)

More than a week after the election, Afghanistan remains in a state of political limbo, with authorities having published results from just 17 per cent of polling stations, giving inconclusive figures.

President Hamid Karzai's main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, has complained about fraud and said he would not accept the result if large-scale abuse was found to have played a decisive role.

The complaints commission, which was partly appointed by the United Nations and includes Afghan and foreign members, said more allegations from polling day are still arriving.

The numbers of serious complaints reported today are far higher than it had listed in the initial days after the voting took place.

It has received 2,207 complaints, including 1,740 since polling day. It has so far categorised 984 of the complaints, and listed 270 as Category A, which, if proved valid, could have material effects on the results.

In a statement, the compliants commission said the received complaints vary.

"They include allegations of ballot stuffing, poor quality ink, intimidation and accusations against polling staff."

Partial results released so far show Karzai leading with 44.8 per cent, with Abdullah winning 35.1 per cent. If no candidate wins 50 per cent of the vote, a run-off must be held between the two top candidates.

Although the results so far suggest a run-off would be needed, it is still too early to predict the eventual outcome. 

Many provinces in the south, where Karzai draws much of his support but fraud allegations are widest and turnout was most affected by Taliban threats, have yet to be tallied.

Taliban fighters threatened to disrupt the poll and launched rocket attacks across the country on polling day, especially in the south. Those attacks failed to halt the election itself, but do seem to have dampened turnout, especially in the south.
The complete preliminary results are due on 3 September, with another two weeks for complaints to be investigated before the final outcome is announced.

A second round if needed should be held two weeks later, presumably 1st October, though dates could change.

The initial tallies suggest only about 5.5 million Afghans voted, a disappointing figure in a country with about 30 million people and an estimated 15 million eligible voters

Poor turnout in the violent south could increase the chance of a run-off, by restricting votes cast for Karzai by his fellow Pashtuns.

This news comes as it is claimed that America's special envoy had an angry meeting with President Karzai over allegations of fraud in the Afghan election.

In a row that has grave implications for Afghanistan's future stability, it is reported that America's special envoy had a heated meeting with the president after the country's elections last week.

Watch Alex Thomas speaking to Clare Lockhart, co- author of the book Fixing Failed States and a former advisor to the UN and Afghan government.

He asks her what had caused this sudden crisis and whether the West had been heading downhill with Hamid Karzai for some time.

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