Quarter of Afghan votes thrown out for fraud
Preliminary results show 1.3m votes disqualified out of total of 5.6m, with 224 candidates referred to election commission
Afghanistan has thrown out nearly one-quarter of ballots cast in last month’s parliamentary elections because of fraud, according to full preliminary results released today.
The election commission chairman, Fazel Ahmad Manawi, said about 1.3m votes were disqualified out of 5.6m. It was not immediately clear what the results would mean for the makeup of the 249-member parliament.
A five-member fraud investigation panel still needs to rule on more than 2,000 complaints deemed serious enough to affect results before they can be finalised. The election commission previously indicated that the process would take about three weeks after the preliminary tally was released.
Officials called the vote a success because they were able to catch the fraud, but the large number of disqualified ballots may tarnish the outcome. Fraud in last year’s presidential election nearly derailed international support for Hamid Karzai, turning the parliamentary poll into a test of the government’s commitment to reforms seen as key to justifying Nato funding and troops.
Some candidates may be disqualified outright if the anti-fraud panel finds that they were behind attempts to manipulate results. The election commission has referred 224 candidates to the panel for investigation because they appeared to be involved in cheating, Manawi said. About 2,500 candidates ran across 34 provinces.
The commission had originally reported a lower turnout figure of about 4.3 million. That figure was based on election day estimates, said Abdul Ahmadzai, the commission’s chief electoral officer.
Asked why the number of disqualified votes matched so neatly with the revised turnout figure, Ahmadzai said it showed that the 4.3 million figure was probably more accurate and that the tallies were later inflated.
Separately, Karzai has rejected international calls to reverse his order to disband all private security companies, saying money spent on such firms should be invested in the national police force instead.
The president has ordered Afghan and international security companies to disband by the end of the year. The US and others have expressed concerns the Afghan security forces are not ready to assume the burden.
“We hope that our international friends will not get back to us or try to put pressure on us or talk about it in the media because none of these are going to work,” Karzai said today. “These companies are closed – that is it.”