Fraud concerns loom ahead of Afghan runoff

Oct. 28, 2009 at 12:25 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- U.N. and Afghan election monitors predict widespread fraud for the Nov. 7 runoff election between the two leading presidential candidates.

An investigation into the Aug. 20 presidential elections in Afghanistan uncovered rampant fraud forcing a runoff between incumbent President Hamid Karzai and his former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.

An unnamed former U.N. official told London's Daily Telegraph that it was unlikely election groups and security forces would change course with less than two weeks before the scheduled runoff.

"I don't think anything is going to be different," the official said. "I don't know: are the Independent Election Commission members who did it last time, and the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police and governors who were all complicit going to behave differently? I doubt it."

The comments come on the heels of a report by The International Crisis Group that shows little political will or resources to rectify the flaws in the Afghan election process that led to the massive fraud.

Karzai downplayed the fraud as an attempt to undermine his influence. Most of the fraudulent votes were in favor of the incumbent.

"Essentially it is the same as last time," an election monitor told the Telegraph. "There are reports from the provinces of meetings with elders to organize the fraud."

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