Afghanistan vote count begins amid fears of fraud
Allegations of fraud and a low voter turnout overshadowed vote counting in Afghanistan's parliamentary election yesterday after widespread and deadly Taliban violence targeted the key poll.
Western supporters praised the more than four million Afghans who, according to preliminary figures, took part in Saturday's election, compared with the 4.8 million valid votes cast in last year's presidential poll.
The bodies of three election workers were found Sunday in northern Balkh province, the head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said, following the country's second parliamentary polls since the Taliban was overthrown in 2001.
The death toll from the day's violence was not finalised, but NATO said at least 22 people were killed, while the interior ministry put the number so far at 15.
Election observers said polling day was rife with complaints of delayed poll station opening, intimidation, ineligible voters, misuse of registration cards, proxy voting, poor ink quality and shortages of ballot papers.
The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) said it was compiling reports of irregularities.
"The main types of complaints are the bad quality of the indelible ink and the use of fake voting cards," ECC spokesman Ahmad Zia Rafaat said.
Among those to complain was the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA), which said that voting had been affected by insecurity, violence and irregularities including ballot stuffing.
"Taking these problems into account, FEFA has serious concerns about the quality of the elections," the monitoring group said.
Violence had been expected after the Taliban announced it would attack polling centres, election workers and anyone who turned out to vote.