Vote count begins for Afghan election

Afghan election observers at a polling center after ballots in the country’s legislative election were counted in Kabul on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2018

Vote count begins for Afghan election

  • Some candidates said powerful figures were behind election rigging
  • The Electoral Complaints Commission said there was mismanagement during the election, and as of Sunday it had received some 5,000 complaints from voters and candidates

KABUL: Vote counting began on Monday for Afghanistan’s parliamentary election, which was marred by violence and irregularities, with political parties alleging “organized fraud.”

The parties said mismanagement and hundreds of Taliban attacks, which led to an extension of voting for another day at hundreds of polling stations, could raise questions over the election result, which is expected to be released in two months.

Some candidates said powerful figures were behind election rigging, and biometric devices, which were put in place to counter fraud, were smashed to facilitate the rigging. 

Abdul Bade Sayad, head of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), was cited by local media as confirming incidents of biometric equipment being smashed, and the presence of strongmen inside some polling stations. 

But the IEC should not be held responsible for this, he said, adding: “When the government itself feels helpless before powerful figures, then senior officials of the commission should not be blamed.”

The Electoral Complaints Commission said there was mismanagement during the election, and as of Sunday it had received some 5,000 complaints from voters and candidates.

Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) said people could not vote on Saturday in some 1,000 polling stations. 

Ahead of the election, which was delayed for more than three years, the government said it could not open more than 2,000 stations due to security threats.

Alleged irregularities included polling stations opening late, biometric devices malfunctioning, and the absence of IEC staff and voter registration lists.

Of the 9 million people who had registered to vote, nearly 4 million cast their ballot, the IEC said.

The IHRC said the IEC should not shun its responsibility regarding “shortcomings and grave violations in voting centers.”

The Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan said: “In some of the polling stations, ballots were not counted; instead the ballot boxes were transferred to a different location for counting… without informing the observers about the new location.”


Twelve killed in Indian Kashmir violence amid virus lockdown

Updated 35 min 15 sec ago

Twelve killed in Indian Kashmir violence amid virus lockdown

SRINAGAR: Nine suspected militants and three soldiers were killed in two separate incidents in Indian-administered Kashmir, officials said Sunday, as authorities enforced a lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kashmir, a restive region claimed by nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, had already been under a long-running curfew imposed to quell unrest as New Delhi scrapped the Himalayan valley’s semi-autonomous status on August 5.
Indian army spokesman Col. Rajesh Kalia said five armed militants were killed early Sunday in the northern Keran area close to the de facto border known as the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the disputed territory with Pakistan.
The clashes also left three soldiers dead and critically injured several more, he said in a brief statement.
The fighting came within 24 hours of another gunbattle between suspected rebels and government forces in the southern Kulgam area that left four dead.
Police said all four were militants from the local area.
Kashmir has waged a three-decade-long armed rebellion against Indian rule with tens of thousands of lives, mostly civilians, lost in the conflict.
India regularly accuses its arch-rival Pakistan of arming and sending rebels across the heavily militarised border. Islamabad denies the claims.