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Discontent among Abdullah voters

Mazar-e-Sharif Blue mosque (file photo)
Dr Abdullah won more votes in Mazar-e-Sharif than any other candidate

By Firuz Rahimi
BBC Uzbek, Kabul

Supporters of Abdullah Abdullah are disappointed Hamid Karzai has been declared the winner of presidential elections but so far they have heeded their candidate's call to reject a violent response.

Dr Abdullah Abdullah
Dr Abdullah has called the election of Hamid Karzai 'illegal'

In the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, with its famous blue mosque and a mixed population of Tajiks, Uzbeks and Pashtuns, Dr Abdullah secured more votes than his rival.

While Hamid Karzai's supporters have been celebrating, among Abdullah supporters there is a mood of discontent.

The governor of Balkh province of which Mazar is the capital, Atta Mohammad Noor, has rejected the election commission's decision to hand victory to Mr Karzai outright.

Mr Atta, a close ally of Dr Abdullah, has called for the prosecution of top election officials because of the widespread fraud during the vote.

How can we accept the result of this election? Karzai didn't win this race with real votes
Mohammed Islam
Grocer

Dr Abdullah himself has said there is no legal basis for Mr Karzai's victory and the new government will lack legitimacy.

But he also called on people who voted for him to refrain from illegal actions. Reports say his camp has received messages from supporters, ready to protest.

Frustrated

On the streets of Mazar, Abdullah voters were clearly disappointed.

Supporters of Abdullah Abdullah [1 November]
Supporters of Dr Abdullah wait to hear him pull out of the run off election

In his grocery shop, Mohammed Islam says he intended to vote for his preferred candidate in the second round, but is now left frustrated with the whole process.

"Afghanistan's election process has given Afghanistan a bad name in the world," he says.

"There was a lot of fraud and ballot box stuffing, how can we accept the result of this election? Karzai didn't win this race with real votes. He appointed the election commission and they have announced him as president.

"We are against this," he says.

No support

Others are more sanguine.

If you have the support of America and Britain you will be president. Without that, even with 10 elections you can't be president of Afghanistan
Haji Hamidullah
Tea-seller

Haji Hamidullah, who sells tea in a Mazar neighbourhood, says it would have made no difference if Dr Abdullah had stayed in the race.

"It would have been the same scenario; nothing would have changed in the second round of the election either," Hamidullah says.

"Fraud during elections is unavoidable in Afghanistan. Everything has been decided already.

"They are just trying to show that they are implementing democracy and are caring about people's votes -which is a lie.

"If you have the support of America and Britain you will be president. Without that, even with 10 elections you can't be president of Afghanistan," he says.

Unclear future?

In other northern cities like Takhar and Badakhshan, where Abdullah Abdullah enjoyed big support during the first round, feelings are likely to be the same.

map

Whether the disappointment will lead to actual unrest may depend on Dr Abdullah's future tactics, which remain unclear.

Observers say he could mount a legal challenge to Mr Karzai's re-appointment.

Or he could use his support as a bargaining chip in any attempt to gain influence for himself or members of his team.

But with rising insecurity in the previously peaceful north, people may also be reluctant to create disturbances.

Instead they may want to wait and watch the formation of a new government and how it will try to tackle Afghanistan's multitude of problems.



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