With the first round of vote counts nearly completed Afghanistan’s incumbent Presdient Hamid Karzai has 54.1% of the votes, seemingly enough to avoid a run-off vote with top rival Abdullah Abdullah though well short of the nearly 70% of the vote his supporters claims he had gotten. But Karzai’s victory celebration is going to have to wait, potentially for quite some time.
Karzai’s apparent victory has come in the face of an almost impossible number of fraud claims, including that the president’s supporters created 800 fictious polling places to stuff ballot boxes and claims that Karzai got 10 times as many votes in some districts as their were registered voters. Afghanistan’s Election Complaints Commission says that there is now “clear and convincing evidence of fraud” on an enormous scale, and has ordered a “partial recount” of the votes.
And while a partial recount seems to be a rather conservative move considering the grand scale of the fraud in this election, if nothing else it should quiet claims from the US that the election was a great success, and at least temporarily silence Karzai’s claims of a huge mandate to rule.
But in the long run, it is unclear if the UN-backed commission will do much of anything. Western diplomats have expressed concerns that a re-vote would be unlikely to be any less corrupt, and UN officials have been quoted as coming out against holding the run-off at all since the nation is so wracked with violence it would be a logistics nightmare.