Afghan election rival accuses incumbent Karzai of vote rigging

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hamid Karzai in 2006
Image: Paul Morse, Executive Office of the President of the United States.

Abdullah Abdullah, the main challenger to President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan's presidential elections, has accused the latter of vote-rigging.

Abdullah, a former foreign minister, built up his accusations of fraud on Sunday. "The initial reports we are receiving are alarming. There might have been thousands of violations throughout the country, no doubt about it," he told a news conference.

“Widespread rigging has taken place by the incumbent, through his campaign team, and through the state apparatus, through government officials,” Abdullah continued.

Abdullah Abdullah in 2004
Image: R. D. Ward, U.S. DoD.

“This is under his leadership that all these things are happening, and all these people who are responsible for this fraud in parts of the country are appointed by him. This should and could have been stopped by him. The initial reports we are receiving are alarming.”

Abdullah said he and his campaign team have made over a hundred complaints with election authorities.

Karzai's campaign dismissed the accusations. Spokesman Whaeed Omar said that "they [Abdullah's team] have been saying things about fraud even before the elections took place. Losing candidates often try to justify their loss in this way." He added that the president's team had lodged its own complaints with the election complaints commission.

"We have documented violations that were made by Abdullah's campaign team. But we believe our job is to report to the elections complaint commission ... We do not want to make a media propaganda campaign out of the violations we have documented," the spokesman said.

The complaints commission said that it is currently investigating 225 complaints, 35 of which were described as "high priority" and another 150 as "priority".

Afghanistan held polls on August 20 for president and 420 councillors. According to the country's election system, a candidate must win at least fifty percent of the popular vote to avoid a run-off election.

Election results are not expected to come in until next month.