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Afghan commission gets 1100 complaints over alleged election violations

April 06, 2014, 19:55 updated at: April 06, 2014, 20:09 UTC+3 ABU DHABI
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ABU DHABI, April 06. /ITAR-TASS/. Afghanistan’s Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) has received more than 1,000 complaints over alleged violations during the presidential and municipal elections held in the Central Asian country on Saturday, the commission’s spokesman Nader Mohseni said Sunday.

“About 1,100 complaints have been received by phone, 162 in written form,” Mohseni said. “We will conduct a thorough investigation regarding all addresses by citizens. A probe will also be launched in connection with an insufficient number of ballot papers at some polling stations on the election day.”

The three key contenders for presidency have admitted that there were violations during the presidential election. “It’s a great day in Afghanistan’s history,” former foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul said. “However, in some issues we faced a number of problems.” “The complaints have been submitted to a relevant commission, and it must consider them,” ex-finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai said. “The people will not accept a president elected through vote rigging.” The third favorite, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, said the vote was a “great achievement”, but also admitted that there were some violations.

A total of 325,000 local and foreign observers monitored the Afghan elections. They registered a number of violations that were promptly corrected by local authorities.

Access of observers was restricted at two polling stations in the Kandahar Province. Besides, a woman was arrested who tried to vote 22 times using other people’s voter cards. The Interior Ministry reported that a police officer and a national security service officer were arrested for trying to influence the election process in the Wardak Province.

The key complaint from foreign experts was the blocking by local cellular communications operators of text message services on the election day due to the possibility that such messages will be used to influence voters.

A group of European Union observers said the measure complicated the work of its specialists, adding that it could have negative consequences for the entire election process.

Despite bad weather and the threat of terrorist attacks, the turnout at the national elections totaled 58 percent. According to experts, with account for the difficult situation in the country, elections will be recognized as valid even despite violations.

According to preliminary data from the election commission, some 7 million people participated in the April 5 elections. The vote count will last until April 20. Preliminary results will be announced April 24.

Afghanistan’s current president, Hamid Karzai, was not running in the elections as the constitution does not allow him to run for a third term of office.

According to experts, the new head of state will have to not only solve complicated problems but also to fight for survival. The problem of ensuring domestic security will become the key threat for the authorities and the country’s future.

First and foremost, the president will have to finally define the prospects of the foreign military contingent’s stay on Afghan territory after 2014.

The three favorites said in an interview with the American TV company CNN published Wednesday that in case of victory in the elections they are ready to sign a security agreement with the United States that will enable them to continue bilateral strategic cooperation.

The second, no less important, issue is to build up relations with the Taliban. The Karzai administration tried to bring moderate leaders of the Afghan movement Taliban to its side, and even held talks with them in the United Arab Emirates in late January.

Reconciliation was then frustrated by a series of attacks on Afghanistan’s public organizations, as well as by murders of Taliban leaders on Pakistani territory.

All three favorites are virtually equally supported by the electorate and are capable of heading the country in complicated conditions.

None of the runners is likely to receive 50 percent plus one vote required to win the election in the first round. Afghanistan will likely be in for a second round, scheduled for May 28. If so, two candidates will then fight for the top state post, and the winner will be defined by a simple majority of votes.

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