KABUL (AP) – The Afghan government is prepared to respond to any violence in reaction to the results of last week’s election, the president’s spokesman said Tuesday, just hours ahead of the release of partial voting returns.
Low voter turnout and allegations of fraud have cast a pall over Thursday’s vote, and there are fears that supporters of some candidates may take to the streets. Some worry that supporters of former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah could vent fury if he comes in second with no chance at a runoff, triggered only if no candidate wins more than 50 percent.
Humayun Hamidzada, a spokesman for incumbent President Hamid Karzai, said the government had the resources to respond to any unrest.
“If there are some people who try to violate the situation, I should say that today Afghanistan has its own security institutions, today Afghanistan has a constitution and has its own rules and law,” he told reporters at a briefing in the capital, Kabul. “If anyone tries to break the law, they will face the legal process.”
International observers and the country’s Independent Election Commission have asked candidates to refrain from declaring victory and stoking tensions so soon after the vote. The commission was to release partial results later Tuesday, but official, final results aren’t expected for weeks.
Abdullah has accused Karzai of widespread rigging, including ballot-stuffing and voter intimidation. Karzai’s camp has levied similar accusations. Both campaigns have denied any involvement in fraud or intimidation.
Meanwhile, the country’s finance minister claimed at a private dinner Monday that Karzai won with close to 70 percent of the vote, a statement dismissed by Abdullah’s campaign.
Abdullah has said he is in the lead according to his campaign’s preliminary results.
The claims threaten to undermine the election’s credibility, and President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan strategy. The Obama administration hopes the election will produce a leader with a strong mandate to confront the growing Taliban insurgency.
As of Monday evening, the independent Electoral Complaints Commission said it had received more than 50 allegations of fraud that could affect the election results if true.
Final results cannot be certified as legitimate until the complaints commission rules on these cases. Candidate Ashraf Ghani has sent out a statement listing the complaints his campaign has submitted, including gunmen telling voters to cast ballots for Abdullah and officials stuffing ballot boxes in favor of Karzai.