Afghan candidates protest at ‘flawed’ general election

Dozens of Afghan parliamentary candidates have marched in the capital, Kabul, to protest at what they say were flaws in the 18 September vote.About 200 people took part in the rally, the latest in a series of protests against the poll.Some candidates accuse officials of manipulating the outcome of the vote.Officials have cancelled nearly 25% of the 5.6 million ballots cast because of fraud or other irregularities. Full results are still awaited.Last month, the electoral authorities said more than 220 candidates were being investigated for fraud in the election, turnout for which was around 40%.uesday’s rally at Zarnegar Park in Kabul was attended by about 100 candidates, along with a similar number of their supporters, BBC correspondents say.”This was selection, not election,” one candidate, Siddiq Mansoor, who ran in the eastern province of Nangarhar, told the Associated Press agency.Mohammed Daoud Sultanzoy, who stood for re-election in the south-eastern province of Ghazni, said Afghans want “laws of this country to be upheld, not an election commission engineering an election to their own end”.

“Election laws and the constitution of this country have been stepped on. If we don’t take care of this problem Afghanistan will see a serious security problem,” AP reported him as saying.There have been persistent concerns about the ability of the Afghan authorities to hold a credible poll.The parliamentary vote was seen as a key test, a year after the re-election of Afghan President Hamid Karzai was overshadowed by fraud.But voters faced widespread intimidation on 18 September, with Taliban insurgents threatening people not to take part, and many irregularities being uncovered.The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, which monitored the poll, said people were able to wash supposedly indelible ink off their fingers in 2,950 polling stations across the country. The ink is meant to stop people voting more than once.

Fake voting cards were also discovered in a number of provinces, sometimes in their thousands. And there were allegations that election officials had been accepting bribes.Critics of the vote say the Independent Election Commission (IEC), which organised the poll, has invalidated votes deemed fraudulent without candidates being present, as the rules say they should be.This has raised questions about the body’s impartiality, correspondents say.Many candidates and members of the current parliament want ballot papers to be recounted and fresh votes to be held in some areas – Bbc