Wednesday, February 27, 2008

People's Resistance welcomes election results, condemns blatant

Karachi, Feb 22, 2008: While welcoming the results of the generalelections of February 18, the People's Resistance noted that theoverall results came about despite massive pre-poll manipulation inthe form of compromising the independence of judiciary and media,illegal transfers and postings, and an incomplete and flawed electoralroll. PR also strongly condemned the widespread rigging itself thatmarked the February 18 polls in Karachi and called for action againstthose involved in the manipulation of votes cast that day.
Independent reports confirm overstuffing of ballot boxes, highervolume of votes despite low turnout, harassment at the pollingstations, voting without ID card, absence of voters' names on theelectoral list and the overwhelming presence of a certain party'sworkers across a large number of polling stations in the city.According to one report, some polling stations registered 140% votersturnout despite a low turnout generally witnessed in the city.
Peoples Resistance has many individual testimonies complaining ofharassment, rigging and being coerced to vote in a certain party'sfavour. Voters complained that their ballot papers were alreadystamped on the 'kite' symbol, that they were not provided privacy atthe polling booths that the presiding officers themselves asked votersto stamp the 'kite' symbol. Many gave in to the presiding officers'coercion, afraid to risk a confrontation, especially in theoverwhelming presence of the party's activists at the polling booths.Voters also complained that they were handed over up to 50 ballotpapers to stamp against their ID cards. "I was asked to stamp the kitesymbol on all of them," said one voter.
A Karachi-based party's victory by huge margin also raises questionsabout the transparency of the polling process. There have been reportsof the Party getting 65,000 votes from areas where it had earlierreceived not more than 4,000 votes. Not surprisingly, their opponentshave challenged the results of a number of constituencies, including:NA-241, 249, 250 and 253, and PS-92, 110, 111, 112, 126 and 127.
Terming these irregularities as a mockery of an importantconstitutional exercise, the People's Resistance said that thewidespread rigging reported from Karachi puts into question thecredibility of these results. We condemn blatant harassment of voterswho were bullied into voting for a certain party while theadministration provided no protection against such coercion.
PR also denounced the administration's inefficiency that added to thevoters' miseries. Voters complained of their names missing from thevoters list even though they had registered their names earlier. Theywere made to run between different polling stations and misguided bypresiding officers adding to their difficulties.
PR called for action against biased presiding officers who werewitnessed stamping the ballot papers. "Presiding officers abused theirpower and authority. Instead of facilitating voters, they harassedvoters and did the bidding for one political party, which is aviolation of the EC's code of conduct," said a PR statement.
PR said that the hijacking of Feb 18 polls has shaken the public'strust in this important democratic exercise. Despite security threats,the public came out to cast their votes because they saw the Feb 18polls as a hope for a democratic transition. Those who attemptedrigging on polling day challenged public's constitutional right tomake its choice. These elements must be brought to book. Disputedconstituencies must have a re-election since elections in thoseconstituencies violated all electoral rules and their non-transparentresults cannot be accepted.

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