In Afghanistan, the voting is over, the counting has just begun.
Around 40 per cent of those eligible cast a vote in the contest for the country’s 249 seat parliament. That is less than had been hoped for, but enough to lend credibility to the fragile democracy that Hamid Karzai presides over, if the conduct of the poll is seen to be fair.
But that is a big if, following the massive fraud observed during last year’s presidential election. The defeated candidate then, Abdullah Abdullah, is already voicing his concerns following reports that thousands of fake registration cards were circulating prior to Saturday’s vote.
“If, as a result of massive fraud, it turned out to be a sort of rubber-stamp parliament, in the hands of the government, then we will lose that opportunity for checks and balances which is expected from the parliament,” he said.
Taliban militants disrupted the elections with rocket and gun attacks on polling stations around the country. The death toll has been estimated at 40.
In Kandahar province, a US ammunition storage depot was hit by rocket fire. Around one in five
polling centres were not opened because of the security risk.