News

Afghan Election Officials Urge Patience on Ballot Returns

The two top candidates in Afghanistan's presidential election are claiming victory, although elections officials are saying it is too early to know who won this week's vote. Analysts say what appears to be an uneven voter turnout coupled with possible claims of fraud could have an impact on the credibility of the election.

Election officials in Afghanistan are urging candidates to refrain from declaring victory, although that has not stopped the campaigns of incumbent President Hamid Karzai and his chief challenger, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, from claiming a first-round win.

Election officials say preliminary returns and accurate figures on turnout will not be available for days.

"In the provinces under high security threat level maybe the turnout was low. But there are many provinces where the participants were high. Now it's very difficult for us, because we could not receive the final figures from the provinces. That is why I cannot say the turnout. Soon, we will announce the turnout when we get the final figure," said Afghanistan's chief electoral officer is Daoud Ali Najafi.

In the last Afghan presidential election in 2004, voter turnout was 70 percent.

Most estimates say far fewer Afghans are likely to have voted in this election due to threats of violence from Taliban insurgents that intimidated many potential voters.

Observers and election officials say turnout varied widely and was very low in some Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan.

Still, Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group says millions of Afghans were able to cast ballots and the election was more peaceful and orderly than many predicted. "Given the threats, more people were able to vote than one might have expected. Even if it is a 40 to 50 percent turnout that is fairly significant in the face of the kind of threats and violence that we had and worldwide 40 to 50 percent is not that bad," hesaid.

Another major question is whether any presidential candidate managed to obtain 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a runoff election.

"If the election goes into a second round the element of (a valid) contest will be even further highlighted. In this sense the legitimacy of the result will be I think even further underscored. So there is some advantage, despite the additional burdens it will put on the Afghan government and on the NATO coalition, in actually going to a second round," said James Dobbins, a former special envoy to Afghanistan who is currently the director of international security at the RAND Corporation.

Rival political camps and independent observers are making accusations of voter fraud in the election. Afghan officials say such claims will be investigated.

Schneider also questions last minute campaign decisions such as President Karzai's move to bring home from exile Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum. "I think one question that one would have in terms of the kinds of people that were brought back by Karzai to be part of his team, if you will, including Dostum, who has a horrendous human rights record and is seen by many as going back to the worst of the warlord practices of the past and I think one would have to be quite worried about that in the future," he said.

Human rights workers have accused Dostum of killing up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners early in the Afghan war, a charge he denies.

Whoever is elected president will face a growing Taliban insurgency and a rapid rise of violent attacks on civilians and tens of thousands of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Retired Major General Paul Eaton, a senior advisor at the National Security Network, a Washington-based public policy organization says the next Afghan president will have to be a skillful diplomat and military leader in order to defeat the enemies of his government. "The future president of Afghanistan has got to do a dual focus, focus outward and focus inward, in order to identify his allies, get what he can out of them and those who refuse to be allies to apply, if necessary, military disincentives to drive them to submission," he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama says his administration does not support any specific Afghan candidate, but wants the election results to reflect the will of the people.

Mr. Obama's revamped war strategy in Afghanistan is designed to defeat the Taliban and stabilize the country.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs