Aug 28 2009

Afghanistan Elections Marred by Fraud, Disillusionment

Feature Stories | Published 28 Aug 2009, 10:36 am | Comments Off on Afghanistan Elections Marred by Fraud, Disillusionment -

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Results from last week’s Presidential election in Afghanistan continue to trickle in with 17% of polling stations reporting results from across the nation. Incumbent President Hamid Karzai leads his main opponent Abdullah Abdullah with 43 to 34%. Karzai needs 51% of the vote to avoid a runoff. President Obama has lauded the election as a success calling it “an important step forward in the Afghan people’s efforts to take control of their future.” But on the ground in Afghanistan sentiment is not as optimistic. Reports indicate that Karzai forged alliances with influential regional warlords who pressured large blocks of their followers to vote for him in exchange for promises of newly carved-out provinces. Other reports of voter fraud include the distribution of multiple voting cards to single individuals, including to children ineligible to vote, the registration of women without their consent, and the sale of falsified registration cards. Voter turnout, especially among Afghan women, has been reported to be much lower this election than in the 2004 and 2005 elections due to Taliban threats of violence. With limited rights in many parts of the country, many women were unable to vote last week as at least 650 polling stations for women did not open. Large numbers of Afghanistan’s working poor also remained marginalized at the polls. Reports reveal that journalists who defied the government ban on reporting election-day violence were beaten and arrested by Afghan law enforcement. The Taliban also threatened journalists with death for covering the election.

GUEST: Tony Cross, reporter for Radio France Internationale’s English language website, www.rfienglish.com.

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