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Afghan election commission orders recounts in 7 provinces

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan election officials ordered recounts Sunday of voting at locations in seven provinces after last week's parliamentary elections — the latest sign that fraud charges could hurt the credibility of the ballot.

The increasingly messy-looking election risks becoming another black mark against the government as allegations mount of misconduct and fraud. The charges — submitted by election observers and many of the 2,500 candidates vying for 249 seats in the national parliament — range from ballot-box stuffing, to people voting multiple times or using obviously fake cards, to children voting.

A government anti-fraud elections watchdog said Sunday that it has received more than 3,500 complaints of cheating or misconduct — about 57 percent of them serious enough that they could affect the outcome of a vote.

The election commission has been releasing results very slowly, partly because members say they want to be as careful as possible. So far, only seven provinces of the country's 34 have posted even partial results eight days after the vote.

Commission chairman Fazel Ahmad Manawi said recounts have been ordered at several polling stations because the commission considered the provisional results — yet to be posted — "suspicious." He said the list of recounts was likely to grow.

The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, the main independent Afghan observer group, said that members observed ballot-box stuffing in 280 voting sites in 28 provinces.

The Electoral Complaints Commission has just a few weeks to investigate and rule on the deluge of complaints. Final results are expected in late October, after the ECC rulings.

Afghan election commission orders recounts in 7 provinces 09/26/10 [Last modified: Sunday, September 26, 2010 11:31pm]
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