Afghan election will have irregularities: Karzai

Afghanistan’s parliamentary election due to be held at the weekend will have “irregularities”, President Hamid Karzai said Friday, a year after his own re-election was riddled with fraud.

“In Afghanistan under the circumstances we must expect that there’ll be irregularities, there’ll be problems and there’ll be allegations as well,” he told reporters at his palace in Kabul.

“But we should try to do our best under the circumstances and make the elections a success as things are today,” he said.

“Therefore, it’s important that the Afghan people come out and vote and have trust in their vote.”

Karzai was speaking ahead of Saturday’s election, in which more than 2,500 candidates are standing for 249 seats in the lower house of parliament, the Wolesi Jirga.

Referring to vote buying, he said: “We know lots of people have spent money, businesses, those who are getting contracts from the international community, they have lots of money to spend… but the people should vote regardless of the dollar amount or pressure on them.”

Karzai was returned for a second five-year term last year after an August presidential poll was found to have been marred by massive fraud, most of it in his favour.

Since then he has also faced accusations of involvement in corruption, with some scandals, including the near collapse of the privately-owned Kabul Bank, skirting close to his palace.

Earlier he urged the Taliban to vote, although they have vowed to derail the election, called for a boycott and killed three candidates.

On Friday another candidate was kidnapped.

The Taliban, after nearly nine years of insurgency, have said polling stations, electoral workers and security forces are their primary targets but voters will “get hurt” if they try to vote.

Tens of thousands of Afghan security personnel are on high alert to protect voters from the threats.