Last week’s elections in Afghanistan have been marred "by widespread fraud and intimidation" which could cast doubt on the legitimacy of the vote, six presidential candidates declared Tuesday.
The candidates issued a joint statement as Afghanistan’s elections commission prepares to release preliminary voting results from the nation’s contested presidential race later in the day. A cabinet minister in the government of incumbent Afghan president Hamid Karzai claimed Tuesday that preliminary results showed Karzai won the election with 68 percent of the vote. But America’s top diplomat for Afghanistan and Pakistan says its still too early to declare winners. “This election is not over,” he said, adding that no one could declare a winner, until the counting of ballots and evaluation of complaints of fraud were completed. Holbrooke spoke to CNN on the sidelines of a “Friends of Pakistan” ministerial meeting in Istanbul. Unlike fellow candidate Abdullah Abdullah, the six men did not blame incumbent President Karzai for the election fraud. “The Election commission received over 400 complaints so far, with more than 40 possible major enough to affect (the) outcome,” according to the joint statement from Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Mirwais Yassini, Motasimbillah Mazhabi, Sayed Jalal Karim, Frozan Fanah, and Bismillah Shir. The statement said many of the allegations “are seriously questioning the legitimacy and credibility of the results.” “The Afghan nation wants their voice to be heard and their questions must be answered by the election commission and the international observers,” they said. The charges come as the Independent Election Commission in Afghanistan s preparing to release the results from 2,400 of 6,000 polling centers around the country at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Karzai’s chief rival Abdullah Abdullah on Monday repeated his charges of widespread ballot fraud and declared that Karzai “single-handedly put Afghanistan at risk by trying to rig the elections.”
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Abdullah told CNN in an interview that his campaign had received what he described as credible reports of fraud in the southern provinces, where security was poor and turnout less than 10 percent. Abdullah said ballot boxes were stuffed with additional votes, with 90 percent of them going to Karzai. “This is stealing the elections, and it will not be accepted,” he said in the interview. He said he based his allegations on accounts of witnesses and on videos, but no videos were made public nor was it clear whether any had been turned over to the organization investigating election complaints. A spokesman for Karzai’s presidential campaign, Waheed Omar, said the allegations were without merit. “This is an all out propaganda war that is undermining the process of the ECC (the Electoral Complaint Commission) by bypassing the legal institutions and making it an all out media campaign,” Omar said. The ECC investigates complaints of voting irregularities and fraud. ECC officials said as of Monday the body had received over 600 complaints from voters around the country, and officials characterized dozens as the “highest priority” for investigation. Watch how results will come piecemeal » Abdullah said he believed that the ECC would investigate charges of fraud in good faith but called on the international community to guarantee the credibility of the process, saying that if it failed “it will have consequences for Afghanistan, for all of us.” Abdullah specifically suggested that unanswered fraud in the elections could result in increased tension in the country. Asked whether he thought it would lead to violence at the hands of his supporters, he replied, “I’ll try and prevent that, but all I can promise is that I will be with the people.”
Abdullah brushed away any suggestion that he might make some sort of agreement with Karzai to join a new government led by the incumbent. “I will not make a deal, enough deals have been made in this country and that’s taking this country to the past,” Abdullah said.