Fraud commission voids Karzai votes

The UN-backed commission investigating fraud in Afghanistan's election issued its first orders today to exclude some ballots from the final tally.

The 20 August poll has been increasingly marred by reports of ballot-box stuffing and suspicious tallies.

A US monitoring group has said "large numbers of polling stations" had more than 100 per cent turnout and President Hamid Karzai's top challenger has accused him of "state-engineered" fraud.

All ballots from five polling stations in Paktika province should be voided because they show clear evidence of fraud, the Electoral Complaints Commission said in a statement. This is a more severe step than ordering a recount, in which the votes could eventually be included.

Decisions by the commission are final under Afghanistan's electoral law. The group is releasing decisions from each province as investigations finish.

International censure of the vote has increased since Tuesday, when election officials released preliminary results from 92 per cent of polling stations showing Karzai had finally passed the 50 per cent threshold needed to avoid a run-off. The voiding of ballots could change these results.

The complaints commission ordered an audit and recount countrywide of stations where turnout was at or above 100 per cent, or where one candidate won more than 95 per cent of the vote.

The Washington, DC-based National Democratic Institute said its analysis of results found large numbers of stations with more than 600 votes - the 100 per cent mark - in Nuristan, Paktia, Helmand and Badghis provinces, along with others.

These are areas considered some of the least secure on polling day and in which anecdotal accounts of nearly empty polling stations suggested low voter turnout. Few international observers went to these areas because of security risks.

Though there are no official turnout figures from the August 20 poll, government officials and independent observers have generally said voters showed up only in low numbers because of Taliban threats ahead of the vote and attacks on election day.

Dozens of people were killed amid rocket bombardments, bombings and polling station raids.

The monitoring group said it had "deep concern" over the high levels of fraud complaints pouring in. The Electoral Complaints Commission has received more than 2,800 complaints about polling day and the counting process, of which 726 have been deemed serious and specific enough to affect polling station results.

"It will be impossible to determine the will of the Afghan people," unless fraud complaints are thoroughly investigated, it said in a statement.

The group had more than 100 international and Afghan observers in 19 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. It did not have observers in many of the provinces where it saw problems in the results, but the figures have been posted on the web.

Partial results released so far show Karzai with 54 per cent, far ahead of top challenger Abdullah Abdullah, who has 28 per cent. Election officials have said they expect to release full results Saturday, but these will not be deemed official until all fraud complaints have been investigated and any re-counts are finished.

Election officials have said they are holding back suspicious results, but they appear to be using a different metric than the complaints commission because voting centre results in which candidates won more than 95 per cent of the vote have been posted, along with stations that have tallies higher than 600.

The National Democratic Institute says it is a non-partisan organisation aimed at strengthening democratic institutions. It is funded partly by private donations and the US and other governments.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future