South Asia News
Afghan Attorney General denounces election results (2nd Roundup)
Nov 24, 2010, 15:22 GMT
Kabul - Afghanistan's Attorney General's office has denounced the publication Wednesday of the results of the country's September parliamentary elections.
The election, marred by widespread fraud, was being investigated by his office, deputy Attorney General Rahmatullah Nazari said in a press conference where he accused some senior Afghan government officials of fraud during the electoral process.
The election results were announced before the Attorney General's office could investigate the fraud allegations, Nazari said, vowing that his office would 'bring the perpetrators to justice.'
More than 1.3 million votes, nearly one-quarter of total ballots cast, have been ruled invalid by the election commission.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced results of the election for the lower house of parliament, also known as Wolesi Jirga.
'With all the shortcomings it was a major success for us, the Afghan government, people of Afghanistan and our international friends,' Fazel Ahmad Manawi, chairman of the IEC, said as he announced the results of 33 out of 34 provinces, and 10 seats set aside for Kuchi nomads.
Officials expressed concern over the results from the southern province of Ghazni, where Pashtuns failed to gain any of the 11 seats - despite making up half the population. Several of the province's regions did not hold ballots following security threats.
The confirmed results for Ghazni were withheld Wednesday as authorities were to decide whether to hold a fresh ballot there, or find another way to ensure better representation for the province's Pashtuns, nationally the dominant ethnic group.
Across the country, more than two dozen preliminary winners, among them a cousin of President Hamid Karzai, were disqualified. Manawi also said 1,153 polling sites were disqualified due to irregularities.
A UN-backed commission examining allegations of fraud had received more than 6,000 complaints from observers, voters and candidates.
More than 2,500 candidates, including over 400 women, vied for 249 seats in the lower house, known as Wolesi Jirga. Sixty-nine women candidates won seats in the lower house, one more than the quota guaranteed by the constitution for women.
For Karzai, the lower house is vital because it has the authority to question his policies, approve or reject his cabinet nominations, and vote on laws proposed by the executive.
But the makeup of the legislature was unclear, as Afghanistan has little experience with democracy and does not have party organizations with declared policy agendas. Most candidates ran as individuals, and much voting was along tribal lines.
The scale of the fraud rivalled that of last year's presidential election, where one-third of votes for the incumbent Karzai were declared void.
Meanwhile, aound 100 lawmakers, candidates and their supporters took to the streets of Kabul, accusing election officials of fraud and calling on the Attorney General's office to scrap the results.
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura welcomed the announcement of the results, saying 'the formation of a new parliament would be a major step in Afghanistan's path to improving its democratic governance and the capacity of Afghan institutions to deliver services to the Afghan people.'
Western nations with 150,000 troops in Afghanistan are carefully watching the process to see if Karzai is committed to reforming his government, and his tarnished reputation.
Read more about Afghanistan Elections