Four more Afghan election employees arrested

Four Afghan election commission employees have been arrested, an official said today in a sign that the political intrigue over September`s fraud-tainted parliamentary election is not over.

Updated: Dec 06, 2010, 15:59 PM IST

Kabul: Four Afghan election commission
employees have been arrested, an official said Monday in a sign
that the political intrigue over September`s fraud-tainted
parliamentary election is not over.

It`s the second round of arrests since the attorney
general pledged a wide-ranging investigation over the
September 18 vote. Four other commission employees were
arrested in late November.

The latest arrests came last night but the four have not
been charged, said Abdullah Ahmadzai, the chief electoral
officer of the Independent Election Commission, or IEC.

The men worked in logistics and administration for the
2009 presidential election and 2010 parliamentary elections,
Ahmadzai said.

Ahmadzai said the men are accused of involvement in the
alleged improper selling of USD 8,000 worth of materials left
over from the 2009 presidential race, including ink, pens,
paper and tents.

He rejected the accusation and said the materials were
sold with the permission of UN donors and the money was used
to fund operating costs for the commission.

An official at the attorney general`s office confirmed
the arrests, but did not provide further details.

Many had hoped the September 18 parliamentary vote would
prove a success story for the government of President Hamid
Karzai after a fraud-marred presidential poll nearly
undermined his credibility last year.

Instead, the wait for the legislative results dragged on
for more than two months amid fraud charges and accusations
that the president`s office was trying to influence the
results.
Karzai-appointed Attorney Gen Mohammad Ishaq Alako has
argued that parliamentary results should not have been
released before he finished investigations, a move that
prompted the United Nations to warn Alako not to overstep his
authority by trying to use criminal investigations to
influence poll results.

Even as results were released in late November, Alako
threw uncertainty on the process by promising that his
investigations would produce evidence that high-level
officials were involved in buying and selling the election.
Ahmadzai said the arrests appeared to be a political move
by the attorney general, who has been critical of the IEC, and
pledged high-level investigations. It was the second round of
arrests by Alako since his pledge of a wide-ranging
investigation.

In late November, two IEC employees and two people working
in the money transfer business were arrested.

PTI