Democracy on the march. “Afghan vote: 225 claims of irregularities lodged,” from Dawn, August 23:
KABUL: Around 225 allegations of irregularities in Afghanistan’s elections have been lodged with a complaints investigator, some of which could affect the results, the body said Sunday.
The charges include tampering with ballot boxes for Thursday’s presidential and provincial council elections, as well as intimidation of voters, Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) chairman Grant Kippen told reporters.
Others related to violence, failures of supposedly indelible ink meant to prevent people from voting twice and interference in polling, he said….
‘We are aware of significant complaints of voting irregularities in provinces that were affected by violence on polling day,’ Kippen said, adding that these included the southern province of Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold.
The AP’s election coverage emphasizes U.S. fears that less than credible results will sabotage possibilities for a clear winner to invigorate the Afghan economy and confront corruption, drug trafficking, and the Taliban. These all are noble goals, but will the U.S. or the new Afghan administration (after the election is sorted) confront the underlying ideologies — including those flying under the banner of Islam — that contribute to or enable corruption, trafficking, economic squalor, and the Taliban?
Also from Dawn:
The US special envoy to Afghanistan said allegations of vote rigging and fraud are to be expected, but observers should wait for the official complaints process to run its course before judging the vote’s legitimacy.
‘We have disputed elections in the United States. There may be some questions here. That wouldn’t surprise me at all. I expect it,’ Richard Holbrooke told AP Television News in the western city of Herat. ‘But let’s not get out ahead of the situation.’
Fine. Let’s not get out ahead of the situation. But let’s also drop the absurd moral equivalence. On one side, we have controversies surrounding chads, campaign supporters waiving signs at proper distances from polls, and meticulous recounts.
On the other side we have allegations of ballot rigging and stuffing, threats to cut off noses and ears of voters, more threats against female potential voters, and the cutting off of the fingers of at least two women who did vote.
Holbrooke said the US government would wait for rulings from Afghanistan’s monitoring bodies — the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission — before trying to judge the legitimacy of the vote.
‘The United States and the international community will respect the process set up by Afghanistan itself,’ Holbrooke said. He has been in Afghanistan observing the vote, following a trip to Pakistan last week.