by Tony Cross
Article published on the 2009-08-23 Latest update 2009-09-18 17:21 TU
The leading opponent to incumbent Hamid Karzai in this week’s presidential election in Afghanistan says he has evidence of widespread fraud, and claims to be the winner of the poll. Former Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah Abdullah told RFI’s Tony Cross that he will contest a result which declared Karzai the winner and will be "in a difficult situation" if legal means fail.
At a press conference at his home on 23 August, Abdullah said that he has had over 100 reports of malpractice and is getting “constant reports” of more. His charges include ballot boxes being stuffed, turnout being multiplied by four in some areas and no voting at all taking place in others, where results have nonetheless been reported, “all in favour of the incumbent”.
In Kandahar and Ghazni the counts took place in the houses of influential local people, he claims, while in Spin Boldack, a troubled area on the border with Pakistan’s tribal zones, a private house was used as a polling station.
“The people of Afghanistan deserve to know what is going on,” he says. “The international community deserves to know our concerns.”
In an interview with RFI after the press conference he claims to be receiving new reports of fraud all the time.
“I was aware of thousands of minor things. What I’m talking about today is hundreds of big things. This is a real cause of concern for us.”
In Kandahar, Ghazni and Khost, southern provinces where the Taliban are strong, there has been widespread fraud, he says.
“For example the turnout is about ten per cent, everybody knows that. If you ask the people, they will tell you the turnout was not more than ten per cent in Kandahar [province] in the districts as well as the centre."
But, he claims, officials are preparing to announce a 40 per cent turnout there.
“In Kabul we had less than 40 per cent turnout. Can you imagine this in Kandahar?" he asks.
“In Kandahar rockets came to the city … people couldn’t go to the districts, the roads were blocked by the Taliban, and in that sort of a situation they claimed that the turnout has been more than 40 per cent - that in itself tells you the bigger picture.”
Abdullah's campaign’s monitors were intimidated and prevented from entering polling stations, he claims, while ballot boxes were stuffed in people’s houses.
The former Foreign Minister says he will try and pursue his grievances through legal means and has called for calm, although he told the press conference that he has no faith in the head of the IEC. And he hints that he might still mobilise his supporters in protest if legal means fail.
If basic standards are not observed, “that questions the legitimacy of the process, then that puts us in a difficult situation”, he concludes.
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