Afghan election marred by fraud complaints
KABUL: Election officials overseeing Afghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power sifted through scores of fraud complaints Sunday as they began a lengthy vote count, after insurgents killed at least 50 people on polling day.
The final result in the run-off presidential election is not due for several weeks, and international concerns have focused on the risk of a disputed outcome as the two candidates started to trade fraud allegations. Officials said more than 50 people were killed in separate Taleban strikes Saturday, when more than 7 million voters cast their ballot in the contest between former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani.
The deaths included five election workers killed when their bus was hit by a roadside bomb in Samangan province, and five members of one family who died when a Taleban rocket hit a house near a polling station.
Eleven voters in the western province of Herat had their fingers — which were dipped in ink to register their ballot — cut off by insurgents.
The UN described the mutilations as “abhorrent.”
More than 70 militants were also killed in fighting during the day, according to the Interior Ministry.
The White House praised voters’ courage and called the elections “a significant step forward on Afghanistan’s democratic path,” after the turnout topped 50 percent.
The US, along with the UN, urged the two candidates not to make unproven fraud allegations, but both Abdullah and Ghani raised the issue immediately after polls closed.
“It is win or lose now,” said Kate Clark, director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network.