Just after polls closed Saturday evening, Gen. Zahir Zahir, the Kabul Police Chief, leveled accusations against top Independent Election Commission (IEC) official Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail, claiming he had attempted to steal ballots from the commission's headquarters.
According to Zahir, vehicles belonging to Amarkhail were stopped by police officers while trying to leave the IEC's Kabul headquarters on Election Day with extra ballots stowed inside them. He said that bodyguards of IEC Secretariat Chief threatened the police officers who kept them from leaving with the ballots.
"We told our police officers to be impartial, but unfortunately, there are hands here that are not impartial and starting last night, efforts were made to commit fraud," Zahir said Saturday evening. "Fraud is committed everywhere, as you can see the vehicles that we identified, they belong to Amarkhail."
However, Amarkhail has strongly rejected the allegations and maintained the ballots were needed for centers that faced shortages on Election Day.
"Today, around 1:30pm, a shortage of critical materials occurred in the 21st district and the police were not ready to escort the materials and would not allow them to be sent either," Amarkhail said.
"Finally, the Minister of Interior, the Deputy Minister and the Kabul Police Chief were involved, but the police were not ready to send the material until 3:20pm...the IEC condemns the police force's actions and asks the president to address the issue."
Gen. Zahir has said that the ballot boxes that were seized from the vehicles were handed over to IEC Chairman Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani for further investigation.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Interior, Umer Daudzai, suggested in a press conference Saturday night that the entire incident was likely the result of a "misunderstanding". He said a commission would be formed to conduct an investigation.
If the removal of the materials was in fact unsanctioned, Amarkhail would be by far the most high-level IEC official to be implicated in electoral improprieties. During the first round, the IEC ended up blacklisting over 5,000 employees for engaging in fraud and other violations, but all of them were of relatively low stature compared to Amarkhail, who is the second highest ranking member of the commission.