Kabul: Afghan President Hamid Karzai stopped
short of endorsing the results of September`s fraud-hit
election on Thursday, urging protestors to avoid violence and
file complaints through legal channels.
One of his key aides opened criminal investigations into
allegations of vote rigging, arrested election officials and
criticised the Independent Election Commission (IEC) for
"prematurely" certifying all but 11 parliamentary seats.
The moves came as analysts warned Karzai`s support in the
new parliament appeared to have dwindled and as his main
opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, claimed that his loyalists won
more than 90 seats in the 249-member chamber.
Candidates who stood for election on September 18 have
taken to the streets in towns and cities across the country,
denouncing final results that the UN mission and US embassy in
Kabul had been swift to welcome.
"The president... calls on unhappy candidates and their
supporters to avoid violence and disorder and take their
complaints to the legal authorities to be addressed in the
light of the law," said a statement from Karzai`s office.
Karzai "is committed to the previsions of the
constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and will
act in accordance with them," it added.
The IEC yesterday announced 238 seats in parliament from
the election, leaving 11 unendorsed from the troubled province
of Ghazni, where Afghanistan`s largest ethnic group, the
Pashtuns, failed to win a single seat.
An official involved in the election told AFP on
condition of anonymity that low Pashtun representation "is
something Karzai is not happy with."
The head of state is himself a Pashtun and much of his
support is rooted in the south and east, where Taliban
insurgents waging a nine-year war against his Western-backed
administration are also concentrated.
Investigations into massive fraud have already
cancelled a quarter of the 5.6 million votes cast, following
more than 5,000 complaints of fraud, and disqualified 24
people declared to have won under preliminary results.
Mohammad Ishaq Alko, the country`s leading prosecutor,
said he had evidence that election workers were involved in
fraud during the September vote.
"We have evidence that people`s votes were traded in
Kabul and Dubai," Alko told Radio Azadi, a Kabul-based news
station also known as Radio Free Europe.
He said eight people had been arrested.
His deputy, Rahmatullah Nazari, told AFP that four
people, two of them senior election officers, had been
detained and a hunt for a fifth man -- a UN-affiliated
election official had been launched.
"They`re big, they`re in decision-making positions,"
Nazari said in reference to the two election workers. The
other two were money dealers involved in vote fraud, Nazari