Afghanistan: Election Fraud, Karzai’s Controversial Comments

BY Larisa Epatko  October 26, 2010 at 5:14 PM EDT

The level of fraud in Afghanistan’s parliamentary election last month, where nearly a quarter of the ballots were discredited, was about equal to last year’s presidential contest — the difference is in how it’s being handled, according to the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Scott Worden, who traveled to Afghanistan as an election observer.

Since the Independent Election Commission announced the invalid votes and did not certify them, it shows the IEC is serving its purpose as a watchdog, Worden told Hari Sreenivasan:

Worden pointed out, however, that the level of violence was greater in this year’s election than last. “You cannot have free and fair elections, good legitimate elections, as a rule where half the country is involved in an insurgency,” he said. “So this election was really trying to make do with a bad situation.”

Worden also discussed how Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged receiving bags of cash from Iran, and accused the United States of trying to sow instability via its contractors, sending a negative message to countries providing aid.

“I think there are good reasons for us to give that aid and I think Karzai understands them. But there’s a political game that’s being played out in the media that’s not constructive for either side.”

See more stories on our World page and follow us on Twitter.