Thursday, September 3, 2009

Afghan election fraud row mounts

A row over alleged fraud in the Afghan presidential election has intensified, after a tribe in the south made the most serious claim so far.

The leader of Kandahar's Bareez tribe says that nearly 30,000 votes were cast fraudulently for President Hamid Karzai instead of a challenger.

Mr Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who heads the Kandahar provincial council, called the claims "baseless".

The Electoral Complaints Commission is probing more than 2,000 fraud claims.

The claims could undermine the legitimacy of the election, which Afghanistan's Western allies see as crucial in their campaign against the Taliban.

Full investigation

Speaking to Daud Qarizadah of the BBC's Persian television service, the Bareez tribal leader, Haji Mohammed Bareez, said that ballot boxes from one district were "stuffed" with fraudulent votes in favour of Mr Karzai.

The tribe believes it has been deprived of its votes and wants a full investigation by the complaints commission, which has the power to throw them out if they are proved invalid.
The tribe decided before the election that it was dissatisfied with the performance of Hamid Karzai and announced it would back Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister and main challenger.

On election day it says its district polling stations were shut down and the ballot boxes brought to district headquarters in Kandahar where they were stuffed with votes in favour of Hamid Karzai.


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