Afghanistan says over 3,000 complaints about vote

By Waheedullah Massoud (AFP)

KABUL — Afghanistan’s electoral watchdog said on Tuesday it has received over 3,000 complaints about irregularities in the run-up to Saturday’s parliamentary election and on polling day itself.

The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) said 1,388 complaints had been received specifically about election day irregularities — which could impact the results — ahead of a 4 pm (1130 GMT deadline) deadline for submissions.

There are concerns that the ECC could be hard-pressed to handle the volume of complaints, which are expected to rise as preliminary results are posted on its website.

More than 2,500 candidates stood for the 249 seats up for grabs in parliament’s lower hose, or Wolesi Jirga, and many of the losers are expected to lodge complaints.

ECC commissioner and spokesman Ahmad Zia Rafaat told AFP that on top of the 1,388 complaints about polling day irregularities, another 1,700 had been lodged relating to problems ahead of the vote.

ECC officials in the southern provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan and Zabul, where the Taliban insurgency has been at its most fierce, said most complaints received related to allegations of multiple voting.

Election officials said more than four million Afghans voted on Saturday in their second parliamentary poll since the 2001 US-led invasion overthrew the Taliban regime, held despite insurgent threats and attacks.

Counting has been completed in most of the country’s 34 provinces and first preliminary results are expected on Wednesday.

Final results, due on October 31, can only be announced once complaints have been dealt with and the count certified by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) at its headquarters in Kabul.

Afghan analyst Haroon Mir, who stood for a seat in Kabul, said he would be lodging many complaints, particularly over “problematic” counting and the listing of results.

But he said he feared the ECC would be overwhelmed.

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