Following yesterday’s announcement that the UN-backed Election Complaints Commission (ECC) had found “clear and convincing evidence of fraud” on a massive scale in last month’s presidential election and had ordered a partial recount of the ballots, Afghans hunkered down for what could be months of in-fighting over President Hamid Karzai’s hotly disputed victory.
But now the controversy has found yet another complication, as the Independent Election Commission (IEC), a separate commission which was appointed entirely by Karzai, officially published the results, which effectively gives Karzai the victory under Afghan law.
What about the partial recount? The IEC rejected the ECC’s documents, claiming there was a translation error in them. The IEC official went on to claim the ECC’s call for a recount might not be legal, and added that if it did happen it could take two to three months to complete.
From the moment the election started, reports of fraud and voter intimidation began to emerge. Initially starting with public sales of extra ballots of a few dollars each and claims of ballot stuffing, eventually the reports came to include 800 completely fictitious polling sites at which Karzai performed remarkably well, and several other sites where Karzai apparently got every single vote.
The dispute is setting up another serious battle between Karzai and his Western backers. Most Western nations have conceded that the election was probably not legitimate, and Karzai for his part has claimed all the accusations are an American plot against him.