‘Major discrepancies’ in Afghan presidential vote

An Afghan woman casts her vote in Kabul on Saturday, September 28, 2019. (AP)
Updated 07 October 2019

‘Major discrepancies’ in Afghan presidential vote

  • About 30 biometric devices have gone missing, officials say

KABUL: Biometric machines key for the validity of last week’s presidential election in Afghanistan have gone missing, officials for the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said on Sunday.

The results sheet and all related documents from the election have arrived in Kabul. IEC officials said that the government-appointed body will verify the discrepancy between the results sheets and biometric devices in a number of provinces, which has drawn criticism from observers who consider it part of a series of irregularities that marred the vote.

They said that those IEC members who had committed fraud, violations and were behind the disappearance of nearly 30 biometric devices, will be investigated and prosecuted. The initial result of the ballot will be released on Oct. 17, with the final results three weeks later.

“The only acceptable and valid votes are the ones that have been processed by the biometric systems,” Orangzib, a commissioner for IEC, told a news conference in Kabul.

Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi, a spokesman for IEC, told Arab News that the process of transferring result sheets, and sensitive and non-sensitive materials from 34 provinces to Kabul, was completed by late Saturday.

He said that votes from the region had been registered on the main server. He could not comment about the impact on the total votes of the 29 biometric devices that had gone missing.

As part of a move to minimize fraud, the IEC used biometric devices, but IEC officials also allowed voters to cast their vote without the devices in some parts of the country.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Complaints of irregularities, violations and fraud have been reported throughout the country.

  • The initial result of the ballot will be released on Oct. 17, with the final results three weeks later.

Mawlana Abdullah, another IEC commissioner, told reporters that it was easy to distinguish between non-biometric votes.

There was poor turnout on voting day due to repeated threats by the Taliban to derail the process and because of disillusionment caused by fraud and mismanagement in previous rounds, particularly during the parliamentary elections last year.

Of 9.6 million voters, only 2.6 people, mostly from urban areas, came to the polling stations. Complaints of irregularities, violations and fraud have been reported throughout the country.

Election watchdog groups have described the turnout as the lowest since the Taliban’s ousting in late 2001.

Despite the poor turnout, the camps of incumbent Ashraf Ghani and that of his arch rival, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, both claimed to have won the vote while the IEC said only it had the legal right to declare the winner.

Questions have been raised by the media and some politicians about the legitimacy of the election given the low turnout.

“The participation of merely 20 percent of voters in the election seriously puts under question the basis of legitimacy of the future government,” wrote Dr. Usman Taraki in an article in the Daily Weesa on Sunday.

Mandegar, another daily, said given the level of irregularities and poor turnout, the political parties needed to prevent a crisis in Afghanistan and form a caretaker administration.

Ghani on Saturday said that the new president would take the oath of office as stipulated by the elections law.


UK opposition chief Corbyn apologizes for Labour’s worst election debacle

Updated 15 min 32 sec ago

UK opposition chief Corbyn apologizes for Labour’s worst election debacle

  • But veteran socialist defended his far-left campaign platform and gave no clear indication of when he might step down
  • Labour’s campaign was dogged by voter doubts about its vague position on Brexit

LONDON: Britain’s main opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn apologized to supporters on Sunday for overseeing his Labour party’s worst election defeat since before World War II.
But the veteran socialist defended his far-left campaign platform and gave no clear indication of when he might step down.
“I will make no bones about it. The election result on Thursday was a body blow for everyone who so desperately needs real change in our country,” Corbyn wrote in the Sunday Mirror newspaper.
“I wanted to unite the country that I love but I’m sorry that we came up short and I take my responsibility for it.”
Thursday’s snap general election handed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives a mandate to take Britain out of the European Union at the end of next month.
Corbyn said on Friday that he would step down at some point early next year.
But the century-old party has no clear successor and is being riven by infighting within its senior ranks.
Labour’s campaign was dogged by voter doubts about its vague position on Brexit and allegations of anti-Semitism within the party’s senior ranks.
Corbyn tried to shift the campaign’s focus on bread-and-butter social issues traditionally important to Labour voters.
“But despite our best efforts, this election was ultimately about Brexit,” Corbyn admitted in his letter.
“The Tory campaign, amplified by most of the media, managed to persuade many that only Boris Johnson could ‘get Brexit done’,” he said in reference to Johnson’s campaign slogan.
“We will learn the lessons of this defeat, above all by listening to those lifelong Labour voters who we’ve lost in working class communities.”