KABUL, Afghanistan – The Afghan presidential election on Saturday appeared to be substantially cleaner than the widely discredited 2009 election, according to complaint figures released Tuesday by authorities here.
None of the leading candidates have said so far that they would dispute this year’s balloting, whose results have not yet been announced. Widespread complaints about ballot-box stuffing in 2009 led the country’s Independent Election Complaints Commission to order a recount, which cost President Hamid Karzai the outright majority that he initially appeared to have secured, though he still won a second term.
The spokesman for the commission, Nader Mohseni, said Tuesday that the voting process had gone much better this year. “The scale of fraud and violations in this election was much lower compared to previous elections,” Mohseni said, citing both international and Afghan election observers.
In the 48-hour period for filing complaints, which ended Monday night, the commission recorded 1,573 formal complaints, Mohseni said. “Compared with 7.5 million people who voted, that number is very small; it’s almost nothing,” he said.
By contrast, the commission recorded 2,842 complaints after the 2009 election, according to the National Democratic Institute.
Under Afghan election law, the candidates are supposed to refrain from claiming victory until the official results are released, which may not come until April 24, officials have said.
Nonetheless, of the three major candidates, two have let it be known that they believed they had won outright by taking more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round.
One candidate – Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank official and longtime Karzai aide – went as far as posting a pie chart on his personal Facebook page showing 57 percent of the vote for him, with Abdullah Abdullah, the runner-up in 2009, supposedly receiving 26 percent and Zalmay Rassoul, Karzai’s former foreign minister and the candidate widely believed to be his favorite, a distant third with 10 percent.
In an interview Monday, Abdullah said that his 20,000 observers had reported results to him, but that he was going to wait until the election commission released its official tallies before speaking publicly about his own. “We have to respect the rule of law here,” he said.
But people involved in his campaign released figures they said were based on analysis of 2.25 million votes (about one-third of the total cast), showing Abdullah with 50 percent; by their reckoning, Ghani was running second with 38 percent and Rassoul third with 10 percent.
Adding to the uncertainty, Rassoul asserted that “massive fraud” did take place in the balloting. He gave no specifics, however, and did not call as yet for any recount.