President Karzai is becoming more useless by the month. His interference in investigations into corruption in his inner circle are bad enough. Now it appears that he has once again permitted - or facilitated - massive voter fraud:
The fraud, which included ballot-box stuffing, citizens forced to cast their votes at gunpoint, corrupt election officials and security forces complicit with corrupt candidates, is expected to mean that 800,000 to a million votes will be nullified, according to two Western officials who are following the election closely.
The Afghan Independent Election Commission, which oversees the counting, has refused to disclose the number of votes that could be thrown out, but said in a statement that it had decided to nullify wholly or partially the votes cast at 430 polling places, and that votes at another 830 sites were being audited, suggesting substantial problems.
Until now the commission has been praised for endeavoring to run an honest vote-counting process, but the delay at the last minute, as hundreds of candidates have thronged to the capital, Kabul, clamoring to know the results, has raised questions.
In an e-mailed statement released just two hours before a planned news conference to announce the results, the commission said it would make the announcement on Wednesday. "The reason for the delay in results is to be more accurate and precise," the announcement said.
Western observers fear the delay is coming from pressure being placed on the commission by powerful politicians. If true, one of them, no doubt, is Karzai who has seen to it in the past that his handpicked cronies win in order to keep parliament a willing instrument of his power and investigations into corruption at bay.
We can't make Afghanistan a democratic country. They have to do it themselves. So far, their leaders are failing the Afghan people miserably in this regard, and contributing to a growing cynicism in the country where many are seeing the Taliban as the better of two evils.