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Karzai Declared Preliminary Winner In Afghan Elections As Crisis Deepens

September 16, 2009

By Antoine Blua

Afghanistan’s postelection crisis has deepened, as the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) declared incumbent President Hamid Karzai the preliminary winner of last month’s poll while EU observers have alleged massive fraud.

According to the IEC, complete preliminary results from the August 20 poll show President Karzai received 54.6 percent of the vote -- enough to be reelected in the first round.

His main challenger, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, garnered almost 28 percent.

An IEC official, Daud Najafi, told a news conference in Kabul that turnout was just under 39 percent, or 5.9 million voters.

The results are not final until they are approved by a separate election fraud watchdog, which has called for a recount of about 10 percent of polling stations.

In addition, some Karzai administration officials say that the winner -- presumably Karzai -- will be saddled with an unworkable power-sharing arrangement crafted and imposed by Western governments.

'Suspicious' Votes

Earlier in the day, the EU Election Observation Mission to Afghanistan said around 1.5 million votes cast in the elections were “suspicious,” including 1.1 million votes cast for Karzai and 300,000 for Abdullah.

Dimitra Ioannou, the deputy head of the mission, told reporters in Kabul that massive fraud had taken place at some polling stations.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan in Kabul, the chief EU observer, Philippe Morillon, urged Afghan authorities to investigate the allegations.

"We tried to deter the massive fraud. We did not succeed. Now, we confirm that there has been massive fraud, and we ask the Afghan authorities to investigate before [certifying] the results," Morillon said.

Karzai's campaign team quickly retaliated, calling the announcement "partial, irresponsible, and in contradiction with Afghanistan's constitution."

In an interview with Radio Free Afghanistan, Information and Culture Minister Abdul Karim Khurram went a step further.

Khurram accused Western powers of trying to manipulate the process, putting pressure on Karzai’s government to accept a power-sharing arrangement with his rivals.

"The purpose of this pressure is to have a weak and dependent government that cannot stand on its own feet," Khurram said.

Accusations Of Pressure

Khurram alleged the plan had been devised months ago.

As an example, Khurram said that during Karzai’s last visit to the United States in May, “discussions arose about establishing a board of chief executives” alongside the government.

He suggested that “some individuals were named” to be assigned to positions of authority over areas like security and the economy within the new administration.

Khurram said at the time that the possibility of establishing a coalition government and authorizing “certain committees to oversee it” was also mentioned.

Khurram insisted that Western interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs was nothing new but he said the current administration in Kabul intended to resist it.

"Interference, pressure has always been there. This is not a situation of today. These pressures were applied well before the elections, during the elections, and after the elections," Khurram said.

Khurram’s statements mark another escalation in the anti-Western rhetoric coming from the Karzai administration following the election.

There was no immediate foreign reaction to his allegations.


Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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