MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Independent Election Commission (IEC) officials on Sunday acknowledged fraud had been committed at a number of polling sites during yesterday’s runoff presidential election in northern Balkh province.
They accused warlords, former jihadi commanders and ex-provincial council members of fraud in various parts of the province. In some cases, they said IEC officials were also complicit.
IEC chief in Balkh Izzatullah Arman told Pajhwok Afghan News that the turnout and security environment was satisfactory during yesterday’s voting but incidents of fraud took place in various areas.
He said more than 400,000 people had participated in the second round of presidential election and the turnout seemed to be significant in Balkh.
There had been no problem from security perspective during the dispatch and arrival of election materials to and from polling sites, he said.
Arman accused some former commanders, influential figures and provincial council members of committing electoral fraud in Mazar-i-Sharif, the provincial capital, Zari, Dehdad, Sholgar and Char Bolak districts.
Investigation done so far revealed 30 ballot boxes should have been put into the quarantine, but the number of such suspicious boxes was likely to increase, he said.
In the same areas, Arman, said some IEC officials had paved the way for fraud. All ballot boxes of a polling centre in Beya area of Zari district were taken home by a former jihadi commander and stuffed them with bogus votes, he claimed.
In Kamobrak and Tekah areas of Sholgar district, powerful individuals and commanders had forcibly stuffed ballot boxes, the official said.
In connivance with an election commission official, a former provincial council member had committed unprecedented fraud in Thanai area of Char Bolak district.
Fraud was also committed at the Abu Zaid School polling centre in Dehdad district, Arman said, adding in Mazar-i-Sharif, electoral fraud was committed with the help of IEC officials in Hashim Barat, Municipality, Fatima Balkhi and Ali Chopan polling centres.
As a result, Arman said five IEC officials had been fired. Counting of vote that began at 4pm on Saturday had finished but ballots from all polling centres were yet to reach the IEC provincial office.
He said election materials from Zari and Koshanda districts had been delayed due to bad condition of roads and the stuff was likely to arrive in Mazar-i-Sharif until Sunday evening.
He also said three ballot boxes were broken after the vehicle carrying the boxes from Zari district overturned. The ballots were transferred to other boxes after they reached the IEC office, he explained.