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ACM Home arrow Convenor's Column arrow Afghanistan error compounded

Afghanistan error compounded Print E-mail
Written by Professor David Flint AM   
Monday, 12 October 2009

A major U.S. newspaper says confidential U.N. data on Afghanistan's disputed presidential election show the official vote count in some provinces exceeded the estimated number of voters by more than 100,000. (Voice of America 7 October)  The error began when the US sidelined the only authority in the country, The King,  against the wishes of the Afghan leaders. Instead they chose Hamid Karzai. We are seeing the results today. 

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[King Zahir Shah, right, at the inauguration of President Hamid Karzai, 2004 ]
 

The Washington Post reports that a U.N. spreadsheet kept secret by the U.N. chief envoy in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, shows widespread discrepancies between estimated turnout and the final vote tally.

These discrepancies are especially prevalent in the volatile southern and eastern provinces, where Afghan President Hamid Karzai won with large margins. For example, the Independent Election Commission recorded about 135,000 votes from southern Helmand province, but the U.N. estimated that only 5,000 to 38,000 people there voted.

This flows from the ideological decision to eliminate the Afghan monarchy from a ceremonial role in the new Afghan Constitution. Nearly two thirds of the delegates to the loya jirga in 2002 signed a petition to make  King Zahir Shah the interim head of state. As an opinion piece in a prominent US newspaper recently pointed out, only  “massive US interference behind the scenes in the form of bribes, secret deals, and arm twisting got the US-backed candidate for the job, Hamid Karzai, installed instead.”



...dismissed UN official ordered not to pursue fraud reports...



Peter Galbraith, the top U.S. official with the United Nations mission to Afghanistan who was removed from his post last month, said he was repeatedly ordered not to pursue fraud reports. Galbraith says U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon removed him not over a disagreement about how to handle reports of fraud, but over whether the U.N. should publicly address it.

He said he learned in July that at least 1,500 of the nearly 7,000 polling centers were located in places so insecure that Afghan election officials and security forces had never even visited them.Galbraith added that these sites produced hundreds of thousands of phony votes for Mr. Karzai, who appointed all seven members of the ballot-counting Independent Election Commission.

United Nations officials in New York said  that Galbraith was fired from the U.N. mission because of an "accumulation of circumstances" that showed he was not the right person for the job.

 

 
 
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