Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Deadly Afghan election marred by fraud complaints

The final result in the run-off presidential election is not due for several weeks and international concerns have focused on the risk of a disputed outcome as the two candidates started to trade fraud allegations.

More than 50 people were killed in separate Taliban strikes on Saturday, officials said, when more than 7-million voters cast their ballot in the contest between former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani.

The deaths included five election workers killed when their bus was hit by a roadside bomb in Samangan province and five members of one family who died when a Taliban rocket hit a house near a polling station.

Eleven voters in the western province of Herat had their fingers – which were dipped in ink to register their ballot – cut off by insurgents.

More than 70 militants were also killed in fighting during the day, according to the interior ministry.

The White House praised voters’ courage and called the elections “a significant step forward on Afghanistan’s democratic path” after the turnout topped 50%.

‘Months of wrangling’
The US, along with the UN, urged the two candidates not to make unproven fraud allegations, but both Abdullah and Ghani raised the issue immediately after polls closed.

“It is win or lose now,” said Kate Clark, director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

“The voting is only one phase of the election, and there is still a lot that could change. Being a good loser doesn’t gain you much here.

“If it is close and fraud looks to have been a lot, and either candidate wants to really make a fuss, then we could be in for months of wrangling.”

The 2009 election, when outgoing President Hamid Karzai retained power, was marred by massive fraud that shook the US-led international effort to develop Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.

A credible election and a smooth handover of power would be a major achievement for Afghanistan’s backers after 13 years of costly military and civilian assistance.

‘Allegations of fraud’
All foreign combat troops are due to withdraw by the end of this year.

“Allegations of fraud need to be addressed,” US ambassador James Cunningham said in a statement.

“But the candidates and their supporters should refrain from premature judgements and from criticism that is not supported with clear evidence.”

The preliminary result is due on July 2, before the complaints period begins, and the final result is scheduled for July 22.

“We have urged the candidates to act as statesmen, future presidents, rather than people simply in a competition with each other,” said Nicholas Haysom, the deputy chief of the UN mission.

He called for candidates to “exercise patience” as the count got underway.

The Electoral Complaints Commission registered about 275 complaints by Sunday morning.

“There were violation cases where the supporters of the presidential candidates forced voters to vote for a certain candidate,” said spokesperson Mohammad Nader Mohsini.

“Supporters were also offering money for voters to vote for a certain candidate.”

He said allegations had also been raised of interference by election officials and the security forces.

Both candidates swiftly alleged fraud after the closure of the polls.

“We know there has been fraud, you have seen it, we have seen it,” Abdullah said.

Ghani called for a full investigation into vote-rigging, saying “unfortunately there were cases of security forces involved in fraud, we have the evidence”.

Ahead of Saturday’s ballot, the Taliban threatened to kill voters and officials, saying the election was an American plot “to impose their stooges”.

The two candidates came top of an eight-man field in the April first-round election, triggering the run-off as neither reached the 50% threshold needed for outright victory.

Abdullah secured 45% of the vote in April with Ghani on 31.6%.

The Italian-run Emergency NGO, which runs clinics in Afghanistan, received twice the average number of patients on Saturday.

“Most injuries were from bullets and mine blasts,” said programme coordinator Emanuele Nannini. – Sapa-AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Related stories


Subscribers only

‘People feel they have a stake in SAA’ — Gidon...

Interest in the beleaguered national carrier, which has received billions of rands in public funding, means criticism is inevitable

Soweto teacher dismissed for the alleged repeated rape of a...

The learner was 13 when the alleged rapes started, and they continued for two years until she asked to be moved to another school

More top stories

Eskom to take over distribution, billing at troubled Free State...

The Maluti-a-Phofung local municipality owes the power utility more than R5-billion

COMING UP: Ramaphosa addresses the nation

The president will give an update on developments in South Africa's response to the Covid-19 pandemic

ANC committed to paying staff salaries, but employees are not...

ANC staffers picketed outside Luthuli House on Tuesday after months of problems with salary payments

Kanalelo Boloetsi: Taking on Lesotho’s cellphone giants, and winning

A man who took on cellphone data regulators over out-of-bundle rates is featured in this edition of a series on human rights defenders in the SADC region

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…