TOPICS > Nation

Other News: Afghans Wait for Election Results

August 21, 2009 at 12:00 AM EST
LISTEN SEE PODCASTS

TRANSCRIPT

JIM LEHRER: In other news today, President Karzai and his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, both claimed victory in Afghanistan’s presidential election. But the official vote count is ongoing, with only partial results expected next Tuesday.

We have a report from Nick Paton Walsh of Independent Television News.

NICK PATON WALSH: As the counting continues, the questions are more about how many voted than who for. British troops here unload ballots from the district of Nad-e-Ali for secure storage and counting, the end of their push to make yesterday’s vote happen.

A day that was marked by violence, polling stations hit, and now today the first indication of what sort of vote it was in Helmand. One senior election official telling us turnout was just 8 percent.

This M.P. for Helmand told us too many have been sacrificed so people had the chance to vote.

NAZ PARWAR HADI, M.P. for Helmand (through translator): My heart goes out to the families of soldiers killed there. No, they’re worth more than that. What’s a 10 percent turnout? Foreigners lost lots of lives. More people should have voted.

NICK PATON WALSH: In Kabul, officials offered very few numbers by hinting there was perhaps a 40 percent turnout nationwide. All the same, both the president and his main challenger claimed outright victory in this first round.

WAHEED OMAR, spokesman for Karzai campaign: Our own assumption, based on all what we have heard is and received and what we have seen, so far we are well ahead in the elections.

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, Afghan presidential candidate: So far it is — as far as my campaign is concerned, I am in the lead, and we will see.

NICK PATON WALSH: Here in the capital’s center, the count we saw told a different story. This main polling station was under tight security yesterday, but had a turnout of just a third. And here, at another school in the center of the capital, the calm process of packing up continued, but results showed very few voters had turned up.

Well, they’ve counted the votes once here and are busy packing them up to transport them to the central election commission, but the turnout here in what should be one of the safest, most politically active parts of the capital, indeed, Afghanistan was only a fifth.

So it gives you an idea as to how voters may have felt and what the turnout may have been in some of the more dangerous parts of the country, like Helmand, where British troops are active.

The leading candidates sure of victory, but officials now saying first results won’t come tomorrow, but Tuesday.

JIM LEHRER: And the final official results are due in early September.

President Obama called the scene that greeted the Lockerbie bomber in Libya “highly objectionable.” The only man convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, returned home last night to a hero’s welcome.

The Scottish government released Abdel Baset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds. He’s dying of prostate cancer and has less than three months to live.

Today, the head of the Scottish government weighed in.

ALEX SALMOND, first minister, Scotland: I don’t agree with the reception that Mr. Megrahi was given. I think it was insensitive. It was certainly poorly advised. But, you know, we can’t control what the Libyan government, the Libyan people do. All we are in control of is what the Scottish government and the Scottish justice system can do.

JIM LEHRER: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had asked Libya to handle the homecoming with sensitivity. Today, Megrahi was kept out of the spotlight with no official comment on his whereabouts, and there was no coverage on state television.

North Korean officials sent by Kim Jong-il arrived in South Korea today. They were there to mourn the former South Korean president, Kim Dae-jung. The group of high-level officials laid a wreath at a memorial for the former president, who died on Tuesday. Kim brokered the first summit between the two Koreas in 2000. The North Korean delegation will not stay for Kim’s funeral on Sunday, but they will meet with the South’s unification minister.

The season’s first Atlantic hurricane lost steam as it moved closer to Bermuda. Hurricane Bill, with winds of 110 miles an hour, was on track to move between the Atlantic island and the east coast of the U.S. tomorrow. High waves battered Bermuda’s coastline, and islanders stocked up on supplies. The storm is not expected to hit the U.S., but forecasters warned of dangerous riptides and waves along the eastern seaboard.