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article imageTaliban Carries Out Threat to Cut Off Voters' Fingers

By Chris Dade     Aug 22, 2009 in World
Reports are emerging from Afghanistan that Taliban militants have carried out their threat to cut off the fingers of those who participated in Thursday's elections in Afghanistan.
Nader Naderi of the country's Free and Fair Election Foundation has claimed that two women voters in the southern province of Kandahar, according to CNN deemed to be a Taliban stronghold, had their index fingers cut off after they had been marked with the indelible ink which is used to preventing voters from casting more than one ballot.
The Taliban had issued specific threats to cut off the fingers of those it could identify as having voted and more generally disrupt the elections taking place. Due to the remoteness of many areas within Afghanistan it was a threat that it knew was likely to discourage some from voting for fear of being targeted afterward.
Mr Nadery went on to claim, says the Guardian , that the election process involved many examples of voter fraud and corruption, including poll officials blatantly encouraging people to vote for certain candidates and underage voters.
Nevertheless the elections, held to choose a successor to Hamid Karzai as President or confirm him for a second term in office, as well as choosing those who will serve on provincial councils, have been hailed as a success. And that despite the 26 lives lost during the course of Thursday.
U.S. President Obama, his country's special envoy to the region Richard Holbrooke and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen have all voiced their support for what they claim was a clear demonstration of the Afghan people's desire to embrace democracy.
However the International Republican Institute, a U.S. government funded body based in Washington, disagrees with that upbeat analysis and instead declared:Unfortunately, such issues as lower turnout, fraud and abuse of state resources brought these elections to a lower standard than the 2004 and 2005 Afghan elections
And Human Rights Watch, an international organization headquartered in New York City, also expressed the view that the deaths of 26 people could not truly be classed as a part of any successful exercise in democracy.
The main challenge to President Karzai's bid for a second term in office has come from Abdullah Abdullah and both men have already claimed that victory is theirs. But according to the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan, although counting has already been completed in 30 of the 34 provinces in Afghanistan, the outcome of the election will not be known until August 25. And even then the results will not be declared all at once, instead being gradually announced through September 5.
A period will then follow in which objections to any element of the elections may be lodged.
President Karzai was formally elected in October 2004, having held the post on a supposedly interim basis since December 2001. Abdullah Abdullah is a doctor who has previously served as Foreign Minister of Afghanistan.
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