September 26, 2010

Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan

NY Times:

Evidence is mounting that fraud in last weekend’s parliamentary election was so widespread that it could affect the results in a third of provinces, calling into question the credibility of a vote that was an important test of the American and Afghan effort to build a stable and legitimate government.

In one Kandahar border district, Abdul Karim Achakzai, an independent candidate from Spinboldak, said three groups of election workers were handcuffed and detained for the entire day of the election by border police officers and prevented from conducting the vote in the Maruf district.

In the evening the polling papers with the results were brought to them to sign, but they refused. They were freed the next day after promising not to complain, he said.

Mr. Achakzai accused the provincial head of the border guards, Abdul Razziq, an ally of Ahmed Wali Karzai, of orchestrating the detention. Mr. Razziq, who has influence in several border districts, was also accused of ballot-stuffing and intimidation in favor of President Karzai in the 2009 election, according to election observers.

A cellphone video from an adjoining district showed men ticking dozens of ballots in favor of certain candidates. The video, which was recorded surreptitiously by a candidate’s agent, also captured a candidate’s representatives and election officials inside a polling station haggling over the price of votes.

“You will get as many votes as you asked, just pay 72,000 Afghanis ($1,500),” said the election official, who identified himself as the head of the polling center.

Just a couple margin-notes on this: the Achakzais as a clan are as about as pro-Western a group of Afghans, generally speaking, as there are left in Afghanistan. Maruf and Arghistan Districts, where the fraud was reported, have been largely non-permissive to Western or reliable ANSF forces for most of the last few years, despite being fairly heavily populated. And the close identification of the "master of Spin Boldak," police chief Razziq, with the president's brother is, if not unexpected, certainly more out in the open in this instance than I've seen it heretofore.

Also this:

The US-led coalition force in Afghanistan has conceded that last week's parliamentary elections were far more violent than it first claimed and that the country was rocked by many more insurgent attacks than during last year's presidential election.

Posted by BruceR at 03:10 AM