Fraud Claims Soar as Karzai Moves Closer to Vote Win

Nearly 700 Major Claims of Fraud and Voter Intimidation, and Number Could Rise

by Jason Ditz, August 30, 2009

Afghanistan‘s Independent Election Commission (IEC) issued a new set of vote results today, showing President Hamid Karzai inching further ahead of his chief rival Abdullah Abdullah with about 35% of the votes counted, and nearing the majority of votes needed to avert a run-off vote.

Karzai’s presumptive victory has been considerably tainted, however, by thousands of accusations of voter fraud, and officials now say that nearly 700 of the complaints it has received so far are “Category A” allegations of fraud or intimidation, meaning that any of them is large enough to have potentially had an impact on the outcome of the vote.

Not only that, but officials say that the number is expected to rise even further as the votes continue to come in from the nation’s more remote regions. Between the low voter turnout and the enormous number of allegations of fraud, the credibility of the final results, which were initially expected on September 17 and are now expected to be delayed even further, is very much in doubt.

Another surprising aspect of the vote count in that the current count has Karzai only ahead 46.2% to 31.4%. The raw data collected by the media last week claimed Karzai was going to claim 72% of the vote. Though it is unclear which 35% of the votes has been counted so far, it is hard to imagine that such a discrepancy is purely coincidental.

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