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A UN-backed body found that fraud may have handed the Afghan president an illegal majority, but Karzai is resisting a runoff.
Hundreds of ballot boxes were examined in a random sampling selected from a total of 3,498 “suspicious” polling stations. In all, 358 polling stations were included in the sample, out of which 210 were found to have clear and convincing evidence of fraud.
It did not take a specialist to identify some of the irregularities, which ranged from hundreds of ballots marked with identical symbols in red felt-tipped pens, to others where none of the 600 ballots at the station had ever been folded, making it impossible for them to fit through the slot in the ballot box.
According to Democracy International, over 1.2 million votes were invalidated, the overwhelming majority of them — more than 950,000 — for Karzai. These votes were subtracted from the overall tally of 5.6 million votes, giving a total turnout of just over 4.3 million, or approximately 30 percent of the estimated voter pool.
“Now all eyes are on the IEC,” said one election observer, speaking privately.
According to sources close to the IEC, the complaints commission communicated its decision to the IEC unofficially as early as last Thursday. The IEC promptly announced, again unofficially, that it would not accept any findings that would necessitate a second round of voting.
But by Monday evening no decision had been made.
“The IEC will need at least 24 hours to factor in all the parts and determine the new results accordingly,” said Nellika Little, spokesperson for the ECC.
But it could take a great deal longer that that if Karzai cannot be cajoled or bullied into accepting the decision of the electoral bodies. At that point, the president and the international community will be on a collision course.
President Barack Obama is now pondering a troop increase; both Kerry and the president’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, have advised putting off a decision until a legitimate government is in place in Kabul.
But it will be very difficult to determine legitimacy if Karzai continues to defy the law.