Standoff over Karzai win threatens Afghan power vacuum
Conflict between the two commissions tasked with validating the vote could delay a possible runoff until after the winter snows.
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IEC only has three teams that would have to travel to 34 provinces to conduct the recount ordered by the ECC, says Daoud Ali Najafi, the IEC's chief electoral officer. That would take a month and half – or until November – but any runoff would have to happen by the second week of October to avoid the snow, he adds.Skip to next paragraph
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But that doesn't mean it is too late for a runoff this year, he says. Instead, he is waiting for the ECC to decide if it will drop one of the two conditions for triggering a polling station audit. The ECC wants all polling stations audited that saw either 100 percent or greater turnout, or showed tallies of 95 percent or greater for one candidate where more than 100 people voted.
"We thought that if both clauses were implemented it would take 1.5 months," says Dr. Najafi. The IEC is arguing, therefore, to just recount the polling stations that meet the first clause's conditions – 100 percent or greater turnout. And Najafi says they are waiting for the ECC to start the process by deciding this point. "We are waiting for the ECC to come and start the work."
Lack of communication between IEC, ECC
That's not how Grant Kippen, chairman of the ECC, views things.
"They [the IEC] are driving the process and we are waiting for them to get back to us on the procedures, timelines, and resources needed," says Mr. Kippen. He says it was the first time he had ever heard of the 1.5 month timeline – though Najafi gave the same timeline in a Tuesday report from The New York Times. The ECC also says it has not received any requests from the IEC for a revision of the 95 percent clause.
"We are asking them to gather the information we require and then we will be able to make decisions based on that information," he says. His group has already invalidated ballots from polling stations in parts of four Afghan provinces and the IEC's audit and recount could lead to more votes being tossed out.
Kippen says his phone has been ringing off the hook and he abruptly ended a 12-minute phone interview by saying there was an explosion – audible over the phone – and he had to go. The explosion turned out to be a massive blast in the heart of Kabul that killed six Italian soldiers and 10 Afghan civilians.
Besides its disagreement with the IEC over the audit and recount, the ECC still must wade through another 660 major complaints. These complaints most likely raise the number of disputed votes beyond the 10 percent of polling stations the IEC must audit.
The IEC's contention that it cannot quickly conduct its portion of the investigation ring hollow to Ms. Rondeaux.
"I think indications are clear that there are many IEC officials that are involved in the fraud so if they have the capacity to steal the vote of Afghan voters then they should have the capacity to investigate how that happened," she says.