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Afghan poll: Main fraud allegations

The 20 August Afghan election has been overshadowed by allegations of fraud against all the main candidates.

The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) says it has investigated nearly 2,000 complaints. It has ordered a recount of 10% of votes cast across the country. On 10 September it invalidated ballots from polling stations in three provinces.

BEFORE THE VOTE

Before the votes had even been cast, a BBC investigation revealed substantial evidence of fraud and corruption.

Poll worker rests on ballot boxes at a warehouse in Kabul on 24 August 2009
Critics say the vote is so rigged it can no longer be credible

Voting cards were sold openly and candidates were offered thousands of dollars in bribes for votes.

An Afghan working for the BBC went undercover in Kabul to investigate reports that voting cards were being sold and was offered 1,000 cards, each costing around £6 ($10).

Other vendors made similar offers.

Just two days before polling there were multiple claims of fraud circulating.

POLLING DAY IRREGULARITIES

Election day was marred by widespread allegations of fraud levelled at a number of the main challengers.

Supporters of presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah said that 80,000 ballots were filled out fraudulently for President Karzai in the eastern province of Ghazni.

President Karzai's team strenuously denied the allegations.

And presidential candidate Mirwais Yasini told the BBC that workers from his campaign discovered about 800 ballots with ticks next to his name discarded from the ballot box soon after the vote.

Campaigners for presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani accused Mr Abdullah's supporters of unduly pressuring voters on polling day.

MONITORS' VERDICT

Days after the election, a leading group of observers said the poll was marked by widespread fraud and intimidation.

Stuffed ballot boxes, illiterate voters being told who to vote for and biased officials were cited by Afghanistan's Free and Fair Election Foundation .

EU monitors said that despite widespread intimidation and violence, the vote was generally good and fair - but acknowledged it was still early to assess the election.

KANDAHAR BAREEZ TRIBE FRAUD CLAIMS

The leader of Kandahar's Bareez tribe in the south of the country says that nearly 30,000 votes were cast fraudulently for President Hamid Karzai instead of Mr Abdullah.

An Afghan man looks at an election billboard of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul on 31 August 2009
President Karzai has rejected all allegatinos of fraud.

The tribe believes it has been deprived of its votes and called for a full investigation by the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) , which has the power to discount the votes if they are proved invalid.

Mr Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who heads the Kandahar provincial council, called the claims "baseless".

TRIBAL ELDER ADMITS TAMPERING

One tribal elder admitted to the BBC in early September that he tampered with hundreds of ballots in favour of the president in Zaziaryoub district, in the eastern province of Paktia.

The elder said that in a neighbouring village, his nephew saw one man fill in more than 2,000 ballots.

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH'S ACCUSATIONS

Mr Karzai's main challenger has repeatedly alleged "massive, state-crafted" fraud.

He told the BBC ballot boxes across the country had been stuffed with hundreds of thousands of votes.

"My concern is about... state-engineered fraud which has taken place throughout the country," he said in August.

"Today we were having meetings with representatives of five provinces. In eyewitness accounts of the elections, it's just dreadful. It's just alarming."

President Karzai has rejected all allegations of fraud.

INVALIDATED VOTES

Amid a growing chorus of disquiet, the ECC invalidated votes cast in 83 polling stations .

There was "clear and convincing evidence of fraud" in Paktika, Kandahar and Ghazni, mostly concerning votes cast in favour of President Hamid Karzai, the commission said.

It also ordered supervised recounts of votes in a number of districts within the provinces where irregularities had been suspected.

The suspect votes were invalidated because of a number of indicators of fraud, the commission said, among them suspicious uniformity of markings, invalid seal numbers and incorrect voter registrations.

On 15 September ECC head Grant Kippen said ballots from 2,500 polling stations across the country - 10% of the total - needed to recounted because of indications of fraud.

Officials will be sifting through the votes looking for obvious signs of fraud such as uniform markings, the way the ballots are folded and even the way they have been stamped.



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