- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 19, 2010


Election observers note fraud concerns

KABUL | The main Afghan election observer group said Sunday that it had serious concerns about the legitimacy of this weekend’s parliamentary vote because of reported fraud, even as President Hamid Karzai commended the balloting as a solid success.

The conflicting statements underscored the difficulty of determining the credibility of the vote, also hit by militant attacks that hurt the turnout. Afghan officials started gathering and tallying results Sunday in a process that could take weeks, if not months, to complete.

The country’s international backers offered praise for those who voted Saturday despite bomb and rocket attacks, and voiced hope for a democratic result. A repeat of the pervasive fraud that tainted the presidential election a year ago would further erode the standing of the Karzai administration - both at home and abroad - as it struggles against a Taliban insurgency.

The first vote counts are to be made public in a few days, but full preliminary results are not expected until early October. Then there will be weeks of fraud investigations before winners are officially announced for the 249 parliamentary seats, which were contested by about 2,500 candidates.


Kidnapped officers found slain

ACAPULCO | The bodies of six kidnapped police officers, most of them dismembered, were found Sunday in a ravine in the Mexican state of Guerrero, bringing to eight the death toll from a mass abduction of policemen, officials said.

Fernando Monreal Leyva, director of State Investigative Police, said one survivor of the massacre was located in this coastal state known for beach resorts that has become a drug cartel battleground.

Two other bodies were found Saturday, accounting for all nine officers who disappeared Friday after going to identify a body in the community of El Revelado, located about 165 miles south of Mexico City. Authorities said they later learned that the officers had been abducted by gunmen.

Four of the six bodies had been dismembered and were found with a warning note apparently directed at authorities, Mr. Monreal said.

The bodies included the group’s chief, Commander Enrique Figueroa Abundes, said Mr. Monreal, who declined to name the survivor. He did not say who was suspected in the killings.

Mexico’s government says the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas gang are fighting for control of the region with La Familia Michoacana. The state was also a base for detained drug lord Sergio Valdez Villarreal - alias “La Barbie” - who was fighting for control of the Beltran Leyva cartel with Hector Beltran Leyva.


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