Afghan elections: From chopped off fingers to stuffed ballot boxes
A second runoff presidential election was conducted on Saturday June 14 between the two leading candidates
The way Karzai is talking about the election and handing over power to his successors, it is sort of like he wants to abdicate and is now looking for a trustworthy successor to hand over power to. He has already made a mini castle near the presidential palace – it seems he doesn’t even plan to move far away!
Being so powerful and having developed his influence and networks over than 13 years he spent ruling Afghanistan, it now appears that the second run of the country’s elections cannot go ahead and produce a result without his say so.
A second runoff presidential election was conducted on Saturday June 14 between the two leading candidates Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmad Zai as the two frontrunners.
In spite of insurgents’ threats to disturb the election process, it turned out that the real threat comes from massive fraudulence rather than the Taliban.
The Independent Election Commission ’s latest report shows that the number of voters in some dangerous areas almost doubled. The troubled zones in southern Afghanistan, the places where monitoring the polling stations was difficult to impossible, turned out to host an unbelievable outcome. The 800,010,00 counted votes from three province of Paktika, Paktia and Khost show a huge difference compared to the first run of 359,000,000 for all these three provinces.
It turned out that the real threat comes from massive fraudulence rather than the TalibanCamelia Entekhabi-Fard
The number doubled while, according to the observers and media, the turnout in the country was much less compared to the first run. It should also be noted that these areas don’t have this large a number of people eligible to vote.
The two candidates, who are very different from each other, come from very different backgrounds which clearly shows that each of them have different plans for Afghanistan if they become the president. Dr. Abdullah has a connection with the most popular man in Afghanistan’s modern history - the late Ahmad Shah Masoud - who had fought first with Soviet Union occupier and then with Taliban and killed by al-Qadea a few days before the September 11, 2001 attack and is called a national hero.
For average Afghans, who never met Ghani or heard his name, he is a stranger. He is portrayed as a man who spent whole his life abroad, married a Christian and only served when the Taliban was defeated and he became Karzi’s finance minister. But what people don’t know is Ghani’s good relations with the king maker and also powerful Western powers and plus his wealthy and corrupt Afghan supporters.
Winning the vote
A foreign ambassador in Afghanistan, who spoke with me casually and off the record and wants to remain anonymous, told me of the importance of Kandahar for both candidates. “ Mathematically, we know Abdullah is the winner but all of us are aware about the games and negotiations. The winner needs Kandahar, Mazar-Sharif, Kabul and Herat to feel totally safe. Good percentage in the casted votes from Loie Kandahar (Great Kandahar) means, the Pashtun would back up the next president and this is so crucial. Kandahar would give the elected president authenticity.”
In a fraud-riddled process, which began as early as the Election Day, Kabul’s police and Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission accuse each other of electoral fraud. Apparently, police stopped three suspicious vehicles carrying ballot sheets to unknown places and inside the car was sitting the head of secretariat of Independent Election Commission Zia ul-Haq Amarkhel. There was a minor confrontation between police and Amarkhel who claimed that he was driving the ballot sheets to one of the centers that was short with papers in Kabul. Police dismissed his claim since the police haven’t been informed about his trip to provide him escort and also there is no report of shortage in the place Amarkhel claiming. The cars are now under police detention and the case has been referred to the head of the Independent Election Commission for further investigation. On Sunday June 15, Dr. Abdullah in a live TV broadcasted press conference warned that “Amarkhel is charged with fraud and can’t no longer be trusted.”
At night, Afghan politicians and influential leaders gathered in Abduallah’s residence and whispered among each other about the fate of the country.
Abdullah, at his press conference, talked about the people who lost their lives because of this election and because of their wishes to make difference in their country. Eleven people in Abdullah’s campaign and election observers were killed by a roadside bomb on the eve of the election and anothe eleven men with inked fingers - showing they had just voted - had their digits chopped off by the Taliban. The head of the IEC Mr. Nourestani said that the number of voters was above seven million. This is similar to the first run, the high numbers of which Abdullah called suspicious. A preliminary result of the election is due to be announced on July 2.
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard
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