Several hundred people took to the streets of Kabul on Tuesday to protest problems with September’s parliamentary poll, underscoring persistent concerns about the Afghan government’s ability to hold elections.

Preliminary results were announced last month but final results have not yet been established. The country’s Electoral Complaints Commission has discarded nearly a quarter of ballots cast, citing fraud. The decision sparked complaints that the body was manipulating results to make sure favoured candidates won. A number of candidates demanded investigations, which are still ongoing.

There have been small, scattered protests since the September 18 election, with Afghans claiming their votes were not counted or protesting delays in naming the winners.

The vote was supposed to be a way for the government to reaffirm its legitimacy after a badly flawed presidential election last year. Criticism over President Hamid Karzai’s severely flawed re—election damaged relations between the president and his Western allies and the relationship has still not recovered.

More than 300 Afghans took part in Tuesday’s demonstration.

“This was selection, not election,” said Siddiq Mansoor Ansari, who ran in eastern Nangarhar province. He said he had documented numerous instances of fraud before, during and after the polls.

“We will continue our demonstrations all over the country. We will block roads if they don’t listen to us,” he said.

Mohammed Daoud Sultanzoy, who ran in the southeastern Ghazni province said Afghans want “laws of this country to be upheld, not an election commission engineering an election to their own end.”

“Election laws and the constitution of this country have been stepped on ... if we don’t take care of this problem Afghanistan will see a serious security problem,” he said.

Earlier, a bomb killed two coalition service members in volatile southern Afghanistan, according to a NATO statement Monday night. NATO did not provide further details or nationalities of those killed.

Afghan officials in southern Kandahar province said a suicide attack aimed at NATO troops in Zhari district on Monday evening killed one civilian. NATO said it was unaware of such an attack.

The bomber was on a motorbike, according to provincial spokesman Zelmai Ayubi. District chief Abdul Karim Olasmal said one civilian was killed and one was wounded.

NATO and Afghan troops began a major operation to wrest back control of the south from the Taliban insurgency in July. They have established some pockets of security but insurgents still carry out daily attacks and bombings.

Analysts say the operation’s ultimate test of success will be whether it enables the Afghan government to establish its presence and win public support by providing services to the people.

In a separate incident, a remotely piloted aircraft crashed in Behsud district in eastern Nangarhar Province on Tuesday. NATO said it was not carrying any weapons and the crash was not believed to be the result of enemy activity.

Drones are widely used in both Afghanistan and over the border with Pakistan for surveillance and to target insurgent leaders. Some of the strikes have also resulted in civilian casualties.

President Barack Obama has significantly increased the use of the remote—controlled spy planes and recent months have seen a surge of drone attacks aimed at killing Taliban and al—Qaiea militants taking shelter in Pakistan.


Afghan prosecutor probes election misconductNovember 24, 2010

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