Afghan election body disqualifies 19 poll winners

Sunday, November 21, 2010

KABUL - Afghanistan’s election commission has disqualified due to fraud 19 candidates who had been declared preliminary winners in recent parliamentary polls, an official said Sunday.

More than 2,500 candidates, including over 400 women, vied for 249 lower house seats in the Sep 18 elections. The Independent Election Commission (IEC), which conducted the polls, had declared 180 men and 69 women the preliminary winners.

The UN-backed Election Complaint Commission (ECC) sifted through nearly 6,000 complaints filed by observers, voters and candidates in the past two months and submitted its findings to IEC Sunday, spokesman Ahmad Zia Rafat told reporters.

“Massive fraudulent votes were engineered for the 19 candidates in several polling stations, therefore the ECC invalidated all of their votes in those polling stations,” Rafat said.

It was not immediately clear if Sunday’s disqualifications would affect the balance of power in the upcoming parliament, because all the candidates ran as independents.

The IEC had already invalidated 1.3 million votes from September’s elections due to fraud and electoral violations. The scale of the fraud rivalled that of last year’s presidential election, where one-third of votes for incumbent President Hamid Karzai votes were declared fraudulent.

Western countries, which have more than 150,000 troops fighting a raging insurgency in Afghanistan, are carefully watching the outcome of the polls to see if President Karzai is committed to reforming his government following the fraud-tainted presidential elections that tarnished his reputation.

Filed under: Politics

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