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Afghanistan election commission defends poll results against fraud allegations

[JURIST] Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) [official website] said Saturday that it is doing its job faithfully and impartially in an attempt to reassure the Afghan public amid allegations of voter fraud in the recent presidential election [JURIST news archive]. The remarks are mainly in response to complaints by Abdullah Abdullah [BBC profile], the central challenger to current President Hamid Karzai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The IEC also announced Sunday that it has invalidated [AP report] the results of 447 polling stations because of claims of fraud. While it is not clear how many votes are included in those rejections, the latest election results [IEC poll returns] released Sunday indicate Karzai is in the lead with 48.6 percent. Karzai would need to obtain at least 50 percent of the vote in order to avoid a runoff with the second place candidate. The preliminary results of the election are to be released on September 7, and the final results of the election are scheduled to be certified by September 17.

Soon after the election was held last month Abdullah alleged widespread voter fraud [JURIST report] in the presidential election. Abdullah said his campaign has filed more than 100 complaints [Washington Post report] with the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) [official website] alleging ballot stuffing, inflated vote counts, and intimidation at the polls by Karzai supporters. Election observers also reported at least two instances of voters fingers, marked with indelible ink to avoid voter fraud, being cut off by Taliban insurgents [Los Angeles Times report]. The Free & Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) [official website] said the amputations took place in the southern Kandahar province, which has been plagued by violence. In preliminary findings [text, PDF; press release, PDF] released last month, the European Union Election Observation Mission to Afghanistan [official website] found that while the holding of the election was a victory for Afghan people, the process was marred with voter intimidation and security problems.

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