Karzai Team Forged All 24K Ballots in 1 District: Charge

Afghan president's campaign allegedly detained tribal leader, closed polls
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2009 7:23 AM CDT
An Afghan cleans a car in front of a poster of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009.   (AP Photo/Farzana Wahidy)
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(Newser) – Tribal leaders in southern Afghanistan make the strongest allegations yet of ballot fraud, telling Dexter Filkins of the New York Times that in their district, "Hamid Karzai's people stuffed all the ballot boxes." Members of the Bariz tribe, who endorsed challenger Abdullah Abdullah, say aides to Karzai's brother—himself a hugely powerful provincial leader nicknamed "King of the South"—detained the district's governor on election day and closed all the polling places. They then shipped 23,900 ballots to Kabul, every single one a vote for Karzai.

"Not a single person in Shorabak District cast a ballot—not a single person," the governor says. Karzai's campaign has denied any fraud, and the Bariz tribe's claims are impossible to verify. But Filkins writes that the story sounds credible, since three men gave detailed testimony and agreed to be named and photographed. The governor is now in Kabul, lodging a complaint with other tribal elders, and he does not expect to return home. "I don’t think I am going to be governor much longer," he says.