Afghan vote commission targets `fraud-free` election

Last Updated: Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 22:51

Kabul: Afghanistan`s election commission said on Thursday it would try to avoid a repeat of the widespread fraud that marred the first round in a run-off poll but again rejected calls for its chairman`s dismissal.
"We will try our best to avoid the mistakes made in the first round to hold a transparent and fraud-free election," Independent Election Commission (IEC) deputy chief electoral officer Zakaria Barakzai told a news conference.

Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, looking to topple President Hamid Karzai on November 7, has demanded the removal of IEC chairman Azizullah Ludin before the second-round run-off for alleged bias towards the incumbent.

Ludin, a former presidential adviser who was appointed by Karzai, has come under widespread criticism over vote-rigging in the first round on August 20 which ultimately saw around a quarter of the votes declared invalid.

Both Karzai and Ludin have already rejected Abdullah`s call, and the commission said there was no way he could be pressured into standing down.

"Regarding the resignation of Dr Ludin as chairman of electoral commission, members of the election commission were appointed by a legislative decree of the president for the term of three years," said Barakzai.

"Nobody, including the President, has the right to dismiss them or remove them from the job," said the official, adding that Ludin`s dismissal could only be ordered by the high court if he was found guilty of misconduct.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 22:51

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