Monday, October 03, 2005

Monitors Find Significant Fraud in Afghan Elections

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 2 - Election officials and observers said Sunday that with 80 percent of the ballots counted in Afghanistan's national and provincial elections, they had found significant incidents of fraud.

Whole districts have come under suspicion for ballot box stuffing and proxy voting, said Peter Erben, the chief of the United Nations-assisted Joint Election Management Board. He said ballot boxes from 4 percent of the 26,000 polling places - about 1,000 stations - had been set aside for investigation on suspicion of fraud and other irregularities.

The European Union observer mission said the reports of fraud and possible voter intimidation in places were "worrying." In a statement, the mission said, "While these phenomena do not appear to be nationwide, they are a cause for concern."

Mr. Erben promised strong action and said that if there was a clear indication of fraud, the votes in question would be excluded from the general count. The Election Complaints Commission could also warn, fine and disqualify candidates if there was evidence of tampering, he said.
"We are taking irregularities very seriously," he said.

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