Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Fraud allegations and violence mar Afghanistan's presidential vote -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

SIMON SANTOW: One of the two candidates duelling to become the next president of Afghanistan says the weekend elections were marred by widespread fraud.

Abdullah Abdullah has ramped up his criticism of the country's election commission.

He's accused it of playing sides and allowing phantom votes to be cast.

It's the second time Afghanistan has cast a ballot for a new leader this weekend, because in the first round in April no candidate won more than 50 per cent of the vote.

Sarah Sedghi reports.

SARAH SEDGHI: It's to be Afghanistan's first democratic transition of power but allegations of fraud and brutal insurgent violence have taken their toll on the fragile democracy.

Noor Ahmad voted at the weekend in the province of Herat.

He was one of 11 people, mostly elders, who had their fingers cut off as punishment for voting.

NOOR AHMAD (translation): We participated in the election and cast our votes to choose our president. In short, we were kidnapped and our fingers were chopped.

SARAH SEDGHI: Afghan security forces say they killed two members of the Taliban related to the attack.

The Taliban deny their involvement but did promise violence and to punish anyone taking part in the election.

There were at least 150 attacks across the country and 50 killed.

In one of the worst attacks, a rocket targeting a province in the east killed seven children.

Noor Mohammad Noor, a spokesman for the Afghan Independent Election Commission said electoral workers were among those targeted.

NOOR AHMAD (translation): Three female workers of the Independent Election Commission, along with their families, were killed in Aibak district of Samangan province.

This is a big loss for the Independent Election Commission and we strongly condemn the attack, whoever was behind it.

SARAH SEDGHI: The two candidates running in the election are former foreign minister Dr Abdullah Abdullah and former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani.

Dr Abdullah says there has been large-scale fraud, and that there is no way a record 7 million people could have voted.

He has blamed the electoral commission but the commission has denied the accusations.

Raspal Khosa is an independent defence analyst who's spent time in Afghanistan with the Australian Defence Force and NATO troops.

He says corruption will be a major challenge for the new leader.

RASPAL KHOSA: It is a very carefully contrived political equilibrium whereby various groups gain materially through supporting a particular candidate. I mean, a lot of horse trading takes place, and it's up to Afghanistan's electoral authorities to actually void fraudulent votes if they can be identified.

Corruption is a feature of life in Afghanistan. It's very corrosive of the democracy, and it's perhaps the greatest problem over the long-term for the Afghan state to contend with.

SARAH SEDGHI: Raspal Khosa says the US needs to remain engaged in Afghanistan to avoid the violence and instability unfolding in Iraq.

RASPAL KHOSA: The situation in Iraq has perhaps opened up the eyes of the United States, hopefully, that they need to stay engaged in the region.

SARAH SEDGHI: Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh from Deakin University says, while the Taliban has lost power, they are still close by.

SHAHRAM AKBARZADEH: They have effectively moved to Pakistan and have made themselves a nest. There is a chance, and there is a very strong chance that they will attempt a comeback into Afghanistan, and that's going to create problems for the Afghan government, and that's going to raise questions about whether Afghan government should incorporate and make some kind of a conciliation, form a concession government with those insurgent groups.

SARAH SEDGHI: He says despite the obstacles, a true democracy and an end to the bloodshed is what the people of Afghanistan want.

SHAHRAM AKBARZADEH: The Afghan population are sick of conflict; they have been in war for decades now. The Afghan population really are desperate for a peaceful government.

SARAH SEDGHI: The final election results will be known by the end of next month.

SIMON SANTOW: Sarah Sedghi.