Socialist Worker

Afghanistan: imperialism's sham election exposed

by Guy Smallman, in Afghanistan
Issue No. 2220

Voting in Kabul—a fraudulent process run by a bloody occupation  (Pic: Smallman )

Voting in Kabul—a fraudulent process run by a bloody occupation (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Election day in Afghanistan was meant to be a day of triumph for imperialism.

The Afghan government and its Nato sponsors were hoping to show off their democratic ­credentials to the world. Instead the centre of Kabul resembled a country under military dictatorship.

Police checkpoints saw every other vehicle stopped, search and the occupants frisked.

Most shops were closed and the streets were all but deserted.

People awoke that morning to the news of a rocket attack in the highly militarised Wazir Akbar Khan area—just 500 yards from the US embassy.

In the Dendana district my translator and I were searched four times before being allowed to enter a polling station.

We were shadowed by a plain‑clothes policeman for the duration of our visit.

The atmosphere was tense as there had been a grenade attack nearby, injuring a member of the Afghan security services.

Election monitors told us that the turnout was low compared to the previous parliamentary election.

Speaking off the record, one said that this was due to a lack of confidence following the reports of blatant corruption in the recent presidential elections and Taliban threats.

Reports show that only 24 percent of the 17 million registered voters took part in the election—around 3.6 million compared to 6 million who voted in the presidential elections last year.

Around 1,200 polling stations were unable to open because of security concerns.


The entire process has been tainted by allegations of fraud. Reports of fake registration cards being produced on an industrial scale, and people being paid to vote for certain candidates, were widespread.

At another polling station on the affluent Darulaman Road we encountered a number of politicians doing a photo call for international news agencies.

Right under their noses a girl clearly too young to vote was seen collecting a ballot paper with fake credentials.

She was only asked to leave after one of the journalists pointed her out to officials.

Later that afternoon, in Jalalabad, in the east of Afghanistan, police dispersed angry voters who had been denied the opportunity to vote—the polling stations closed early after running out of ballot papers.

Kabul was relatively calm compared to the mayhem in the provinces. At least one candidate and 20 election workers were kidnapped the day before the poll.

Rocket attacks and fire fights with security forces took place across the country—far more than the previous election—suggesting that the insurgency is bigger and better organised.

Meanwhile in the province of Ghazni 25 polling stations in the Andar district had taken just three votes between them.

This is an indication that confidence in the so-called democracy being imposed by Nato is at rock bottom. Meanwhile the occupation government unravels at a remarkable pace.

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Tue 21 Sep 2010, 17:36 BST
Issue No. 2220
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