Results from Afghanistan’s presidential election have been pushed back for a second time, announced officials from the Independent Election Commission (IEC).
In an election already marred by record-low voter turnout, the delay is likely to lead to further uncertainty and accusations of fraud among rival presidential candidates.
IEC officials eager to avoid the electoral fraud allegations that plagued the country’s 2014 presidential election made moves toward a biometrics-based voting platform that was debuted in the parliamentary elections held in 2018.
Though the use of fingerprint and iris-scan capable voting machines — purchased from Dermalog, a German-based company — wound up leading to even more controversy in those elections partially due to the fact that over 5,000 devices went missing, officials announced they would be proceeding with the use of the same technology for this year’s presidential elections.
Preliminary results were expected on October 19th, though that date was pushed back to November 14th. Now, IEC officials warn they will not be able to meet the deadline they set, and have yet to offer further information as to when the results will become available.
“Unfortunately due to technical problems and other issues, we will not be able to announce the election results tomorrow,” said IEC spokesman Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi.
This latest delay comes after the IEC released a statement saying it had to stop a planned recount and audit of votes following claims of fraud and threats to boycott the process by a number of the presidential candidates.
Adbullah Abdullah, the main rival to presidential incumbent Ashraf Ghani, has raised concerns about the validity of approximately 300,000 votes, claiming they were not made via the biometric devices and saying that “the recounting should be stopped. We are trying to save the process from fraudsters.”
Following the successful use of biometric voter registration systems in elections in Tanzania and Ghana, the switch to a similar method was intended to restore integrity to Afghanistan’s national elections. However, many now fear that a repeat of 2014 is in the cards where, following a bitterly fought battle between Abdullah and Ghani, accusations of fraud led to the U.S. stepping in to broker a power-sharing system that resulted in a coalition government that has lasted until this current election.
November 14, 2019 – by Tony Bitzionis