Just a small portion of fraudulent ballots at the Independent Election Commission in Kabul...
For anyone who hasn't been following this crazy thing called an election: we finally have a winner--Hamid Karzai. This is not a surprise, but a painfully slow conclusion.
In a nutshell, the presidential election was held August 20, yadda yadda yadda, Karzai wins.
The slightly longer version is the presidential election was held August 20, and widespread fraud was reported and investigated by the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission, resulting in 1 million of Karzai's votes being tossed out. As this brought Karzai's total to under the 50% required majority, a runoff was mandated by the Afghan constitution. The date was set for a November 7 runoff, but Karzai's challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, pulled out of the race. The Independent Election Commission declared Karzai the winner the next day and canceled the runoff, to the relief of, well, just about everyone.
(The extremely long version that we have all been living and breathing includes an hour-by-hour account of all of the arm-twisting by foreign countries, the backstage deal-making between Karzai, Abdullah, the UN and the "Independent" Election Commission and well-founded fears of an even more fraudulent election the second time around. And don't forget the attacks on each person's credibility and integrity.)
These ballots? Fageddabout it!
Anyway. Afghanistan's election is finally over, and so is my time here. At least for now.
I have been here in Afghanistan for three months--a record I may never repeat. Although, hmmm...never say never. I had some good luck, some bad luck and times when I didn't know what the hell I was doing here. (Good luck: awesome friends, some truly awesome assignments, amazing experiences, a constant supply of free alcohol. Bad luck: lost wallet/debit card/ISAF ID, a Ramadan dry spell, 3 weeks of pneumonia, dropping my camera and damaging a brand-spanking-new lens, a constant supply of free alcohol. I won't go into the "what the hell am I doing here?" category.)
I have at least four stories to post, but I have to wait for all of them to be published before releasing them on the ole blog.
Until then, I leave you with a wistful, April 2009 Abdullah at the site of Ahmed Shah Massoud's tomb in Panjshir, when he was but a young presidential-maybe-possibly-I-might-run-but-it-depends-on-what-the-polls-say Pashtun...