Friday, December 31, 2004
This is a little strange.
In my original blog entry about all of the Afghani election candidates, other than Karzai, withdrawing from the Afghanistan presidential election in October, I linked to a wire story carried by MSNBC. At the time I wrote my blog entry, the link led to a story about the boycott. However, it seems to now have been changed to a story posted two or three days later about the opposition members recanting and deciding not to boycott the election after all, after the UN stepped in and established a panel to investigate allegations of voting irregularities.
For good measure, here are some quotes from the original story:
Afghans packed polling stations on Saturday for a historic presidential election that was blemished when all 15 candidates opposing U.S.-backed interim President Hamid Karzai withdrew, charging the government and the U.N. with fraud and incompetence.
In St. Louis, the president exulted in the Afghan vote as a “marvelous thing” and said his administration should receive at least partial credit.
“Freedom is powerful,” Bush told a Republican breakfast fund-raiser. “Think about a society in which young girls couldn’t go to school, and their mothers were whipped in the public square, and today they’re holding a presidential election.”
It was a starkly different scene in Kabul, where the opposition candidates met at the house of Uzbek candidate Abdul Satar Sirat and signed a petition saying they would not recognize the vote results.
Sirat, an ex-aide to Afghanistan’s last king and a minor candidate expected to poll in the low single-digits, said all 15 challengers to Karzai agreed to the boycott.
“Today’s election is not a legitimate election. It should be stopped and we don’t recognize the results,” Sirat said. “This vote is a fraud and any government formed from it is illegitimate.”
Islamic poet Abdul Latif Padran, another minor candidate, said, “Today was a very black day. Today was the occupation of Afghanistan by America through elections.”
Election officials acknowledged that workers at some voting stations mistakenly swapped the permanent ink meant to mark thumbs with normal ink meant for ballots but insisted the problem was caught quickly.
“It is not surprising that some of the candidates are raising the question (about the ink),” said former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Bernard Aaronson, the team’s co-leader. “Perhaps some of those who don’t do so well are trying to provide an excuse for why they didn’t do so well.”
What I discovered today, that I didn’t hear about in October, is that the opposition members largely recanted their boycott. This is covered in the story on MSNBC that seems to have replaced the original boycott story:
Chances for a conclusive result to Afghanistan’s landmark election were on firmer ground Tuesday after President Hamid Karzai’s main challenger backed away from a boycott, indicating he’d accept an independent commission to probe vote-fraud charges.
The announcement followed similar statements Sunday by Massooda Jalal, the only female presidential hopeful, and ethnic Hazara candidate Mohammed Mohaqeq.
He said he made his decision after a meeting with U.N. representative Jean Arnault and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.
Another news site has a similar story:
A day after 15 candidates claimed they were boycotting the Presidential elections in Afghanistan, a change of heart for some after election observers said they would launch an investigation into reported flaws in the voting procedure.
But today some hinted they would back down after assurances of a joint UN-Afghan investigation.
“I am in the middle position, I am not too unhappy at the result of the election, but not as happy as Mr. Karzai is. I don’t know what cheating went on,” said Haji Mohammed Mohaqeq, one of the presidential candidates.
Now, it’s anyone’s guess what the opposition candidates’ original motivation was for announcing the boycott, or their motives for later recanting. Perhaps they were pressured into recanting. Maybe they realized they were making fools of themselves. Maybe they were just posturing.
One thing I’m particularly interested in, though, is why the original boycott story disappeared from MSNBC and was replaced by the recantation story. I’m not sure if MSNBC links are generally unstable and subject to being replaced, but I can no longer find the original boycott story on MSNBC.
I wonder why it was pulled.