Evidence Mounts That Afghan Elections Marred by Fraud

Results from last weekend’s parliamentary election in Afghanistan increasingly appear to be marred by fraud, with a third of the provinces affected -- an outcome that calls into question the U.S. and Afghan effort to build a legitimate government, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The Election Complaints Commission said Thursday it received more than 3,000 complaints since last weekend’s election. Such complaints to provincial election commissions have included video clips showing ballot stuffing, heavily-armed election officials and strong-arming of and even the handcuffing and detention of election workers, the newspaper reported.

In some regions, election officials are suspected of carrying out the fraud, while in others the government employees did, witnesses reported to the newspaper. One video demonstrated election officials and a candidate's representatives bartering over the price of votes.

The increasing evidence of fraud and corruption of some candidates raised alarm about the effort to build a stable government that can draw the support of Afghans, the Obama administration and its NATO partners, the newspaper said.

"From an overall democracy-building perspective it does not look rosy," one diplomat told the New York Times, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

Following last year's tainted presidential vote, and this year’s apparent election fraud, international forces may now face an awkward position of defending a government of waning legitimacy.

"In general the election has been a free for all, in that different power blocs were putting forward their candidates in different places," the official told newspaper, which has been following the elections.

"It's not necessarily the pro-Karzai bloc that has done so well, it's that the Parliament will be more dependent on big power brokers," the official said, adding that they would be more likely to make deals with Karzai that did not necessarily serve the Afghan people.

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