Sunday, October 18, 2009

UPDATE: Afghans to Return to Polls for Runoff, U.N. Says

The Independent Elections Commission (IEC) charged with monitoring the August 20th Afghan presidential election has failed to announce a definitive result to the vote, stemming from widespread allegations of electoral fraud. (1) Given the very real need to shore up the democratic process in the nation before winter sets in, the citizens of Afghanistan are scheduled to return to the polls on November 7th for a runoff which will hopefully determine the rightful leader of their nation.(2) The Election Complaints Commission (ECC) received 2,700 complaints of misconduct and chose to invalidate 210 of the polling stations, resulting in the loss of incumbent Hamid Karzai’s majority share of the vote, dropping him from 54.7% of the popular vote to below 50%. (3)

Hamid Karzai, after talks with the UN Commission and U.S. Senate Foreign Relation Committee chairman John Kerry has hailed the runoff as an opportunity for the Afghan democracy to establish its legitimacy. He was quoted as having said on Tuesday in a press conference, "We welcome the decision made by IEC. We believe the decision is legitimate, legal and in accordance with the constitution." (4) Fears remain that violence will mar the runoff and voter turnout will have sharply declined from the August 20th election. 26 Afghans were killed and scores injured across the nation in attacks by Taliban militants who sought to disrupt the electoral process and discourage ordinary Afghans from attending polling stations. (5)

“We have learned very valuable and painful lessons from the first round… We will try to ensure that all Afghan people should be able to express their own will freely and without any intimidation or threat.”
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Speaking to reporters in New York(6)

If Karzai does not accrue enough popular support to form a government, possibilities exist that he will form a governing coalition with his political rival Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. (7) It is highly necessary for the nation of Afghanistan to develop a strong political representation in order to preserve the faith of the citizenry in their governing institution. Both candidates have spoken against forming a coalition, but it is likely that if the results of the November 7th runoff are not conclusive enough, drastic political measures will have to be taken. In the face of a deteriorating security situation, a major offensive against Taliban Militants in Pakistan (8) and attacks by the militant group Jundollah against the Revolutionary Guard in neighbouring Iran, (9) Afghanistan needs a strong government to represent the nation’s interests in the region and on the world stage.

1. Xinhua-Afghan runoff vote to face security, climate challenges
2. San Francisco Chronicle - Afghans in Bay Area Torn over Runoff
3. - Afghan Runoff Election Prompts Steps to Fight Fraud
4. The Globe and Mail - Afghanistan may yet avoid runoff
5. CNN - Officials Hail Afghan Vote as Success Despite Deaths
6. - Off The Cuff with the Secretary General
7. The New York Times - Rival Says He is Ready for Runoff with Karzai
8. GMA News (AP) - Taliban vow to defeat army in Pakistan battle
9. The Associated Press - Iran arrests suspects in attack on military chiefs

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