Sunday, October 10, 2004

Yesterday, the first ever direct national election in Afghanistan took place, a remarkable achievement for a country wracked by decades of civil war, brutal repression, and foreign invasion. It was reported that turnout was 'high', although the election was "marred by 15 candidates' declaring the election illegitimate because of what they said was widespread cheating and fraud," according to a front-page lead story in The New York Times. The opponents to Hamid Karzai "asked for a new vote. But United Nations and Afghan officials overseeing the voting largely dismissed their concerns, saying they believed any problems had been corrected during the day." Aside from the "unexpectedly peaceful" nature of the national 'poll', "the election did encounter trouble from an unexpected source: the ink placed on each voter's thumb to prevent multiple votes." According to objections from "United Nations officials", "many voters found they could erase it minutes after voting simply with water, and, if they had an extra card, vote again."* Frankly, if the election wasn't exactly fair and square, I wouldn't be surprised, it being Afghanistan's first ever conducted, from what we've heard. Hey, Ngo Dinh Diem was 'elected,' too ... in what is now known to most likely have been a rigged election, that is.

[*Amy Waldman, "Afghan Poll Is Mostly Calm, But Challengers Cry Foul; Turnout Is High as Karzai and His Rivals Debate Integrity of Presidential Vote," 10 October 2004, A1]

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