Friday, September 24, 2010

Afghanistan's parliamentary election: Not exactly a ringing endorsement

September 23, 2010

Nobody sitting in the sun-drenched rose garden in Kabul where the self-styled leader of Afghanistan’s opposition likes to hold court could avoid the feeling of déjà vu. It was in the same setting in August 2009 that Abdullah Abdullah denounced the fraud that wrecked the legitimacy of the presidential election he lost. One year on and nothing seems to have changed. As the figurehead to a slate of parliamentary candidates, the nattily dressed politician announced that the legislative election on September 18th was beset by “massive fraud and rigging”. He even promised to repeat last year’s coup de théatre by showing videos of ballot stuffing. “Most of the mistakes of the past have repeated themselves,” he said.

The same problems are re-emerging largely because too little was done to clean up Afghanistan’s electoral machinery after last year’s flawed presidential poll. The country still has about 5m more voter cards than actual voters, for example. But in two respects, things have actually got much worse.