Kabul: Afghanistan`s Independent Election Commission has released the final results of the September parliamentary elections for all 34 provinces except Ghazni in the east where a myriad of problems clouded the ballot.
Abdullah Ahmadzai, a commission member, said Wednesday that a decision still must be made as to whether to certify the results in that province hold a revote or suspend an election until circumstances in Ghazni permit balloting.
There were many complications in Ghazni where polling stations were closed, others were excluded because of fraud and there was almost nonexistent turnout in some districts.
IEC Chairman Fazel Ahmad Manawi insisted politics wouldn`t play a role in resolving Ghazni`s ballot and that the commission would announce a decision on it in three days to a week.
Mohammad Ishaq Alako also said he had suspended the spokesmen for the nation`s two main independent electoral bodies for making irresponsible comments to the media. The attorney general`s office is charged with investigating allegations of criminal activity in the election, but Alako`s comments suggest that he is planning to investigate the legitimacy of the entire process.
Alako alleged on Afghan television that the election was bought and sold by powerful, well-connected Afghans who keep their money in Dubai.
If Alako`s statement, aired on Afghan television, is seen as throwing into question the decisions of election officials, it could cast doubt on the long-awaited results.
"The decision about the Afghan election has been made in Dubai and in Kabul`s foreign exchange market," Alako said. "I have evidence and documents and I am going to investigate. If no one accepts my investigation, I will not come to my job again."
However, the head of the Independent Election Commission rejected Alako`s allegations of wrongdoing, saying no one on the body took part in any secret deals and called on the prosecutor to take his accusations to court instead of parading them in the media.
"If anyone has acted wrongly they should not make accusations but use evidence to bring them to court," IEC Chairman Fazel Ahmad Manawi said. On allegations of secret dealings in Dubai, he said they were "not true."
Alako said he had suspended the spokesmen for the IEC, which organized the vote, and the Electoral Complaints Commission, which investigates allegations of fraud and misconduct. He said the men made "irresponsible comments to the media" about the election and about the attorney general`s office.
It was unclear whether the attorney general`s office had the authority to suspend the officials. One of the men told The AP he was still at his job. Both told Afghanistan`s Tolo TV that they had received no notice of suspension.
President Hamid Karzai said he was happy the results from the Sept. 18 elections were being announced, and called on losing candidates not to take their complaints to the streets but instead to those empowered to deal with them.
"Those candidates who thought they got the votes but failed, we have departments of law where they can go and complain. To block the streets and create violence is not for the betterment of themselves or the betterment of Afghanistan, but only for the betterment of those people who don`t want progress in Afghanistan," Karzai said in a speech about women`s rights just as the IEC began a news conference to announce the results.
Karzai, who looked to be distancing himself from the controversy, was referring to demonstrations that have been staged in recent weeks by losing candidates. Hundreds have been demonstrating in Kabul and other cities to complain that the poll was tainted by fraud.
There has been a tug-of-war in recent weeks between Afghan electoral officials and the attorney general`s office over who has the final authority to investigate allegations of electoral fraud following the Sept. 18 vote.
At one point, Alako announced a series of investigations into alleged fraud, sparking complaints from the international community that he was overstepping his authority. According to Afghan law, only the Electoral Complaints Commission can decide whether fraud occurred or not. That body then forwards any evidence of criminal activity to the attorney general`s office for possible prosecution.
The parliamentary election was the first since a fraud-marred presidential poll last year that undermined the legitimacy of Karzai`s government and pushed some NATO countries to threaten to withdraw troops and aid. Allegations of misconduct in the parliamentary election are being closely watched by Afghanistan`s international partners for signs that Karzai is committed to curbing corruption in his government.