Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission is asking voters and the
media to ignore claims by competing camps that their candidates
captured a first-run victory in the presidential election. Meanwhile,
a prominent U.S.-government funded institute says the electoral process
appears to have been credible "so far."
The campaigns of both
incumbent President Hamid Karzai and his top challenger, Abdullah
Abdullah, are both declaring a first-round victory. That despite
election officials saying the ballot totals from individual polling
sites have not yet reached the capital.
A candidate needs more than 50 percent to avoid a runoff election.
unofficial tabulation by VOA of totals posted at three precincts in
different neighborhoods of Kabul shows Mr. Karzai leading, but falling
short of capturing more than half of the total ballots.
officials and international observer groups are asking the public,
media and candidates to be patient and await official results.
Williamson, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is
leading the monitoring delegation of the International Republican
Institute, which is funded by the American government.
I've already heard of two candidates declaring majority victory," he
said. "If I recall, such good-natured horseplay happens in American
elections, too. The key is that, by September 9th, they have a
preliminary count that they are confident reflects what happened."
Williamson adds "so far, it has been a credible election."
Afghan Independent Election Commission, known as the IEC, had
previously said partial results would be released 48 hours after the
close of Thursday's polls. It now says preliminary totals will not
begin to trickle out until Tuesday and certified final results will be
released from September 17 through the 21.
In the meantime, rival camps are trading accusations of vote fraud.
IEC says such claims, if filed by candidates or others, will be
investigated. The International Republican Institute is being more
explicit, commenting in a release that the magnitude of reports of
voting registration cards being sold and multiple voting warrants
The organization also decries what it calls an
"alarming amount" of fraud and abuse of state resources during the
campaign period. The group also criticizes imbalanced election coverage
by the state-run media "heavily favoring the incumbent."
concern is a drop in voter turnout compared to the 70 percent seen in
2004. The IRI's Williamson told reporters Friday insecurity, due to
Taliban threats to disrupt the election and retaliate against those who
voted, was "a dominant factor" in reducing turnout.
chief electoral officer, Daoud Ali Najafi, declines to confirm other
officials' estimates of overall turnout dipping between 40 and 50
"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. Soon, we will
announce the turnout when we get the final figure," he said.
low turnout and significant claims of fraud could bring into question
the legitimacy of the election. Observers say that could undermine the
new government and heighten ethnic tensions in a country with a
volatile history of warlords and recent decades of civil war.
Afghanistan is currently battling - with the help of 100,000 foreign troops - an insurgency led by the Taliban.