An Afghan election monitoring group says Taliban insurgents have made
good on their threat to chop off ink-stained fingers of voters.
Meanwhile, international observers are rendering a tentative verdict on
the electoral process, calling Thursday's balloting generally positive
Two voters in Afghanistan's Kandahar province, where there is a
significant Taliban presence, had their ink-stained fingers chopped off
by insurgents. The head of the country's Free and Fair Election
Foundation, Nader Nadery, tells VOA his group's observers reported that
the two men were attacked by the Taliban on Election Day.
The report came as key international monitors are rendering a tentative assessment of the election process.
U.S.-based National Democratic Institute says aspects of the election
"were in accordance with democratic principles." But there were serious
flaws that must be addressed before future elections.
president Kenneth Wollack was asked if his organization, which has
monitored 200 elections worldwide, could consider the elections in
Afghanistan to have been free and fair.
"We have seen too many
elections around the world and it is why we reserve a final assessment
to an end of a process not as the process is still unfolding," he said.
of voting irregularities are widespread and international monitors
acknowledge they were not able to observe firsthand what took place in
many provinces because of poor security.
The European Union
monitoring mission says the violence and intimidation prevented a free
election in some parts of the country. It notes turnout was
considerably higher in the North where challenger Abdullah Abdullah
draws support from Tajiks, but particularly low in the South, a Pashtun
stronghold of incumbent President Hamid Karzai.
One of the
American observers, former U.S. Senator Gary Hart, praises the millions
of voters who defied what he calls " a small group of cowardly people
in the shadows who hate democracy."
"I know of few, if any,
mature democracies in the world where faced with the threat of violence
and violence itself that turnout for the voters would have been higher
than it was here Thursday," he said.
The election camps of both
President Karzai and challenger Abdullah are claiming their candidates
are heading to victory, capturing enough votes to avoid a runoff
election. However election officials say tabulations have not been
completed and are preliminary. Partial results will not be announced
before Tuesday. It may be weeks before full, official voting totals are
A successful and credible election - with the losers
peacefully accepting the outcome - is deemed crucial for Afghanistan.
The country is battling an insurgency with the help of 100 thousand
foreign troops. Billions of dollars in aid have poured into Afghanistan
since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 ousted the Taliban from power.