Updated: 5/16/2006; 12:00:35 PM.

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daily link  Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Afghan vote threatens Bush's credibility: "After voter registration centres closed across Afghanistan on the weekend, election officials acknowledged the number of voting cards issued far exceeded the estimated number of eligible voters and that the illegal practice of multiple registrations is widespread... With seven weeks to go before the Oct. 9 poll, the Star has found the practice of multiple registrations is rife. ..  United Nations officials overseeing the elections admit that more than 10 million voting cards have been issued surpassing the estimated 9.8 million eligible voters..

Observers also claim the ground work necessary for a free and fair election security, reconstruction and political stability has not been established in Afghanistan and that the U.S. hurriedly pushed the country into elections to further its own agenda. ..

In a country where the average income is $2 a day, some Afghans who heard that political parties and presidential candidates would pay up to $150 for voting cards, gladly lined up at registration centres several times to get multiple voting cards.  In separate interviews, two Afghans told the Star it was easy to obtain more than one card. One man who registered six times, using his real name and photograph, said U.N. election workers asked him only once if he had previously registered. A woman said her nephew had been approached at school numerous times to sell his laminated voting card and that she knows a woman who obtained 40 cards while cloaked in a burqa.

The blatant violation of election rules has prompted two presidential candidates Latif Pedram, leader of the Congress Mili Afghanistan Party and independent candidate, Ahmad Shah Amadzai to call for an investigation. Overall, the registration process has been rife with many problems: 12 election workers were killed; Afghans confused their voter ID cards for food rations and prescriptions; men forbade wives, sisters and daughters from getting voting cards; and many uneducated people simply don't understand what their first election is about. Originally scheduled for last June, the election has twice been postponed first due to low registration turnout and later because of security concerns. ..

Mustafa Durani, country representative for the International Republican Institute in Kabul, believes more than 1 million Afghans have registered twice. But he shrugs it off. "Illegal things happen," said Durani, whose Washington-based group is associated with the U.S. Republican Party. He stressed that it does not matter if someone registers one or 30 times because they are only allowed one vote."

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Last update: 5/16/2006; 12:00:35 PM.