The count from last month’s Afghan presidential election continues, and many analysts are predicting now that, as expected, President Hamid Karzai will be reelected without having to face a run-off vote with top contender Abdullah Abdullah.
But Karzai’s victory, coming amid widespread reports of fraud, is likely to create considerable unrest among opposition supporters. Only yesterday hundreds of tribal elders met in the capital city of Kabul to call for Karzai’s resignation and a fresh vote held under an interim government.
A re-vote seems unlikely but the discontent with the dubious results has many Afghans bracing for the possibility of post-election violence if Karzai is perceived as illegitimate. This might be particularly problematic as the nation is already seeing record violence from the insurgency.
The Electoral Complaints Commission is responsible for judging the allegations of fraud, and it has received thousands (though it has insisted it won’t accept any more). It could decide to throw out enough disputed ballot boxes to force a run-off, though at least one UN official was reportedly against the idea, saying the run-off was unlikely to be any more legitimate and insisted that the Afghans should forge “a consensus of governance, if not government.”
But can Afghans unite behind a ruler just because he managed to win a fraudulent election with a low turnout? It seems unlikely, particularly considering they didn’t unite behind him after his 2004 election. The US may be trying to tout the election as a success and the complaints of fraud as normal for a democracy, but an already cynical population doesn’t seem to be buying it.