Monday, November 2, 2009

Karzai Finally Steals Afghan Election

The Afghan election debacle came to an end this morning when Dr. Abdullah Abdullah officially dropped out of the planned run-off against President Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) took the opportunity to then proclaim Karzai the president for another five year term.

"Whew! I'm glad we didn't have to go through with rigging another election," said Azizullah Ludin, the chairman of the IEC, "you know how hard stuffing ballot boxes can be? And we were worried that we wouldn't have time to get the ballots with votes pre-printed for Karzai finished in time."

Ok, Ludin didn't really say that, at least not as far as I know, but in Abdullah's opinion, he might as well have. Dr. Abdullah was calling for the removal of Ludin from his position at the IEC since that organization oversaw the fraud-riddled first round of the election. Abdullah also protested the opening of more polling stations in the southern part of the country - a Karzai stronghold, but also the region where the Taliban is the most active. Because of the shaky security situation many polling stations in the south never opened for the August 20 round of voting, yet still turned in ballot boxes filled with votes for Karzai - many of the ballots that were later thrown out. More polling stations there seem like just more chances for fraud.

Rather than face a second rigged vote, Abdullah bailed out of the election. While some media outlets like The Guardian are suggesting that this latest turn of events further undermines the legitimacy of the Karzai presidency, the international community is already rallying to Karzai's side. Hillary Clinton said the Obama administration would back Karzai's new term in office, and the UN's Secretary General Ban Ki-moon flew to Kabul to lend the UN's support.

Of course the international community was more than willing to look the other way on the fraudulent first round of the vote until the UN's number two man in Kabul, Peter Galbraith raised enough of a stink about the vote-rigging force the global community into pressuring Karzai to accept a run-off election (Galbraith lost his UN job in the process). The global community valued the "stability" of the corrupt Karzai regime over the "chaos" of an actual fair election - ignoring the fact that it has been the corruption and incompetence of the Karzai government that led to the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan in the first place.

I can't think of any clearer indication of how screwed up the situation in Afghanistan has become. Unfortunately the international community is showing a lack of will to take any real steps to make things better.
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