By Zabihullah Ehsas
MAZAR-I-SHARIF - Governors and other high-ranking government servants have been accused of fraud and interference in last month's parliamentary elections in northern Afghanistan, an official said on Sunday.
An Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) spokesman told a news conference in Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of northern Balkh province, they had so far received 49 complaints of irregularities and fraud in the second post-Taliban parliamentary vote.
The videos, obtained exclusively by Al Jazeera, cannot be independently verified but appear to show Afghan police involvement in electoral fraud, dealing a blow to official claims that any dishonesty linked to poll did not have the backing of state officials.
Two district police chiefs, a border police commander and a police post personnel had been accused of irregularities, Zia Rafat said, without naming anyone. One governor in the north and another in the west have been blamed for influencing the vote.
Additionally, a number of government officials had been blamed for anomalies committed since the beginning of electioneering until the election day, the ECC spokesman continued.
During the campaign period, he alleged, a governor, a deputy governor and a member of the provincial council had worked in support of their favourite candidates.
When asked how the ECC would punish the powerful individuals involved in poll rigging, Rafat said: "We are investigating the allegations and powerful people are not a hurdle in our way."
The ECC had fined 50,000 afghanis each of the 25 candidates in the north who did not reveal their expenses, he said. The list of the candidates, including 16 from Sar-i-Pul, from from Jawzjan and five from Samangan, was referred to the ECC by the Independent Election Commission.
Preliminary results from the election would be announced on Friday (October 8), while the process of investigating complaint would continue until the 22nd of the current month, the official said. He hinted the investigation could turn a winner a loser and vice versa.