Gloom descends after a deeply flawed election in Afghanistan
BY MID-MORNING on August 20th, election day, the police standing outside the Haji Janat Gul High School, a polling centre a few miles east of Kabul, estimated it had been visited by just four lorries, carrying a score of voters each, and three or four cars. After long conflicts, the second set of elections is often a story of unrealistic expectation turned to disillusion and apathy.
Across Kabul, turnout was sluggish. But at Haji Janat Gul the lack of voters had not dented the tally of votes. Only an hour after voting began, 6,000 had been cast. Yet not a voter was in sight. Staff insisted that the 6,000 had all come at 7am, when polls opened: “The Taliban said that they would cut off the fingers of people voting so they came early.”
This was impossible. Typically it takes four minutes to vote. For 6,000 to have voted in an hour at the 12 ballot boxes, they would have had an average of seven seconds each. The Electoral Complaints Commission later received allegations that the ballot boxes had been stuffed for President Hamid Karzai before polls opened, at the instigation of a local MP and tribal leader.