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Asia-pacific

Final results from fraud-marred Sept.18 poll unveiled

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-11-24

Afghanistan has released most of the final results of the September 18 parliamentary poll that was marred by fraud, low turnout and technical problems, with opponents of President Hamid Karzai claiming a strengthened presence in government.

AFP - Afghanistan on Wednesday released almost all the final results from its controversial parliamentary election after massive fraud saw nearly a quarter of votes cancelled and 24 winners disqualified.
   
The main opponent of President Hamid Karzai swiftly claimed that his supporters had won more than 90 seats in the 249-member chamber as analysts said the head of state's support base in the new parliament would weaken.
   
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) declared the vote a "major success," but disqualified another three people who won seats according to preliminary results and delayed certified results from one troubled province.
   
The September 18 parliamentary poll was Afghanistan's second since the 2001 US-led invasion brought down the Taliban, but results took far longer than expected to compile because of investigations into widespread corruption.
   
The irregularities dampened Western hopes that the election would be an improvement on the fraud-tarnished 2009 presidential vote which cast a long pall over Karzai's return to power and his pledge to wipe out corruption.
   
The IEC named winners of 238 seats, leaving 11 still unconfirmed due to "technical problems" from the southern province of Ghazni, where Afghanistan's largest ethnic group, the Pashtuns, apparently suffered a crushing defeat.
   
Preliminary results gave ethnic Hazaras all 11 seats in the province, a flashpoint in the nine-year Taliban insurgency.
   
IEC chairman Fazil Ahmad Manawi said Ghazni had the largest number of polling stations shut due to insecurity.
   
"Even in areas where polling sites were open, people did not turn up to vote," Manawi said. In one district, for instance, only three votes were cast.
   
About 100 failed candidates marched in Kabul on Wednesday, denouncing the results as fraudulent a day after a Pentagon report admitted that violence in Afghanistan was now at an all-time high.
   
Ethnic splits in the vote could spark controversy. A senior election official speaking on condition of anonymity said Pashtuns, the country's traditional rulers, won about 88 seats compared with 112 last time.
   
Emerging opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah later told reporters that "more than 90" of his supporters had won seats.
   
The former eye surgeon's father was Pashtun, but his mother is an ethnic Tajik and he is associated with the Tajiks of the late anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud's stronghold in the Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul.
   
"We will put pressure on the government inside parliament and outside parliament to bring reforms, positive changes, and to implement and strengthen the rule of law," he said.
   
There are no standard Afghan political parties and many of the 2,514 people who stood for the lower house, or Wolesi Jirga, were officially independent candidates, making it difficult to assess political alliances.
   
Analysts said Wednesday there were indications that Karzai had lost support, but warned that it was too early to draw a clear picture.
   
"From the sound of it, we can say the new parliament certainly won't be dominated by pro-government elements," said political analyst Mahmood Saikal.
   
Election authorities previously invalidated about 1.3 million of the 5.6 million votes cast after receiving more than 5,000 complaints of fraud in the wake of the poll. Of those, 2,500 complaints were classed as "serious".
   
Manawi said a total of 24 candidates had been stripped of victory accorded to them by preliminary results. The group is understood to include allies of Karzai and even a first cousin of the president.
   
Karzai, himself a Pashtun, has favoured a re-run in Ghazni and on Wednesday the presidency stopped short of immediately accepting the poll outcome.
   
"We haven't seen the results yet," Karzai's spokesman Waheed Omer told AFP.
   
Afghanistan's previous parliament was dominated by warlords, many of them accused of war crimes.
   
"We have a number of bad faces that are still there. We have a number of new faces elected too," said Nader Nadery, chairman of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan.
   
NATO leaders last week endorsed a plan to start handing Afghan forces command of the war next year, with the aim of ceding full control by 2014. The United States and NATO currently have around 143,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Date created : 2010-11-24

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