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Final Afghan election results show Hazara minority trumped dominant Pashtuns

Hazaras' strong showing is concerning to majority Pashtuns – many of whom couldn't get to the polls because of insecurity – and casts doubt on how fair the election was.

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Allegations of fraud still loom heavy over the election, with doubts remaining about whether today's announced results will be accepted.

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Hours before the IEC publicized the results, a number of candidates launched a demonstration protesting what they say was a corrupt and fraudulent election.

Such demonstrations have been commonplace since the elections took place on Sept. 18 and nearly one-quarter of all 5.6 million votes were thrown out due to fraud.

Was the Hazara vote fair?

The enthusiastic participation of Hazaras versus the lackluster turnout among other ethnic groups – particularly Pashtuns – has created competing narratives since voting day.

Hazaras have faced historical oppression in Afghanistan. Their suffering under the Taliban regime and their newfound rights under the current Constitution has made the community an ardent supporter of the democratic process. Hazaras turned out to vote in force.

However, Hazara leaders suspect that other ethnic groups – fearful of the Hazara strength at the ballot box – have worked through the government to suppress as much of the Hazara vote as possible.

In Hazara areas of Kabul, as well as the Ghazni districts of Jaghori, Malistan, and Nawur, ballots ran out early, with some Hazara leaders claiming the government purposely short-changed polling centers there. In one mixed Hazara-Pashtun district of Ghazni, Qarabagh, no polling centers opened at all due to a lack of voting materials.

Leaders from other ethnic groups, however, see no evidence of systematic suppression of Hazara votes.

A current Pashtun parliamentarian from Ghazni, Daoud Sultanzoy, scoffs at the notion of Hazara disenfranchisement, pointing out that Hazaras looked poised to sweep all the seats, including his own. But he acknowledged that their enthusiastic participation paid dividends not enjoyed by other groups.

“I don’t want to blame Hazaras, whether they cheated or not. They participated in the process, whether they milked the process for everything they could – good for them,” he says. “The Pashtuns and Tajiks did not fulfill their responsibilities as citizens, did not participate in some parts of the province.”

An inexperienced parliament

While there will no doubt be tensions as the government resolves final voting tallies in Ghazni, few believe that it will create any violence.

“I don’t think this will lead to an ethnic confrontation. Because the election turnout was so low and there was massive fraud, I think for most people it doesn’t really matter what the results showed,” says Masood Farivar, manager of Salam Watandar, a national radio network.

Generally speaking, Afghanistan’s new 249-member lower house of parliament will be a largely inexperienced organization. Only about 90 seats went to incumbents, meaning there will be at least 148 new members. The upper house was not elected in this cycle.

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