Afghan poll watchdog says 2,988 complaints lodged

Tue Sep 21, 2010 9:22am GMT
 

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's election watchdog has received almost 3,000 formal complaints about the country's parliamentary poll and is mulling extending a Tuesday deadline for submitting grievances because many more are expected.

Ahmad Zia Rafat, one of five commissioners on the U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission, told Reuters the body was considering giving Afghans two more days to report their concerns and expected thousands more if it did.

"We expect the complaints would double or even triple in coming days," he said. The current deadline is 4 p.m. (1130 GMT) on Tuesday.

"The complaints are ranging from irregularities during the election, bad quality of ink, interference of government provincial officials and influential figures," he said.

Some four hours before that cut-off point, 2,988 written complaints had been received. More than 1,600 were made during campaigning and 1,388 since voting on Saturday.

Another 1,700 verbal grievances had been made, which would not trigger formal investigations but could contribute to a final assessment of whether the election was credible.

"We cannot say the telephone complaints are invalid, as they can give us a broad picture of what went on," Rafat said in a telephone interview.

Afghan and foreign officials have praised election officials for holding a vote when insurgent violence is at record levels and after the Taliban threatened to disrupt the poll.

At least 17 people died in attacks across the country, and hundreds of polling stations had to be closed over security fears, but there were no major incidents in Afghanistan's big cities on the scale that marred last year's presidential poll.

Since the voting finished however, concern has been mounting about voter turnout and fraud, intimidation and other unfair practices across the country.

Both President Hamid Karzai and the top U.N. diplomat in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, have said it is too early to describe the poll as a success.

 
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