Afghans Stock Up on Guns After Disputed Election

Political turmoil sends 'Kalashnikov Index' soaring
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2009 2:32 AM CDT
Afghans cycle past an election poster in Kabul earlier this week.   (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
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(Newser) – The price of a smuggled Kalashnikov assault rifle in Afghanistan has more than doubled in recent weeks amid rising political turbulence, Time reports. Last month's election is widely believed to have been rigged in favor of President Hamid Karzai, and many fear challenger Abdullah Abdullah and the warlords he represents may turn to violence. "People are arming themselves," warns one Western diplomat in Kabul. 

Karzai officially has 54% of the vote, with 92% of ballots counted, but UN officials believe that total would fall well below 50% if the fraudulent votes were ditched, forcing a runoff election. Diplomats believe a runoff would go a long way toward restoring the Afghan government's credibility. Even if Karzai consented, however, snowy conditions in northern Afghanistan will soon make a nationwide vote unfeasible until spring, leaving the country facing many more months of uncertainty.