Suspension of SMS service threatens transparency of polls: EU

0
69

KABUL

The head of the European Union’s Afghan election observer mission condemned the suspension of mobile text messaging services across the country Saturday, saying it threatened the transparency of the poll.
Cellphone users were able to make calls but not send SMS messages in an apparent effort to prevent candidates transmitting campaign messages on polling day.
EU chief observer Thijs Berman wrote to election officials to warn the move would “seriously handicap” the work of candidates’ agents, who monitor polling stations, and could even affect their safety.
If the suspension lasted until after polls closed, he warned, “the very valuable work of the thousands of observers would also be severely affected”.
“This worries me enormously because observers in polling centres in regions and towns cannot communicate easily among themselves what is happening,” Berman told AFP.
“It’s a risk to their security and also a risk to the transparency of the vote.”
The 2009 vote in which President Hamid Karzai was re-elected was marred by massive fraud.