Accessibility links

Breaking News

Afghan Elections Continue Amid Complaints

Kabul, 9 October 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan voters appear to be turning out in force for the country's historic direct presidential election today, although reports of some irregularities continue.

There has been confusion about statements made by Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai's rivals in the country's first-ever direct presidential election.

Latest reports said that some of Karzai's opponents in today's elections are complaining about irregularities at polling places. These candidates and their campaign teams were reportedly in talks with election officials about possibly suspending the results of the election.

However, there was no clear information about these candidates' positions. A statement clarifying their views is expected later today.

Earlier today, Western news agencies quoted candidate Abdul Satar Sirat as calling for a boycott of the election. Sirat claimed he spoke for all of Karzai's opponents.

There were problems reported with the ink used to mark voters' fingers to prevent them from casting more than one ballot.

Less than 30 minutes after polls opened, one woman from Afghanistan told RFE/RL's Afghan service that the ink, meant to remain on fingers for several days, washed away easily.

"Another concern of ours is that they colored our fingers with ink, but the coloring of the ink was very poor [light] so the ink can be removed very quickly from fingers," the woman said. "We know that everyone has two or three ballots and we urge UNAMA's (United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan) office to make coloring stronger. This is our concern."

There were also complaints that supporters of some candidates were continuing to campaign outside voting areas in violation of election rules.

[For more on the Afghan elections, see RFE/RL and Radio Free Afghanistan's dedicated "Afghanistan Votes 2004-05" webpage.]