First partial Afghan poll results released

Afghan officials released the first partial results from last week`s parliamentary elections.

Kabul: Afghan officials released the first
partial results from last week`s parliamentary elections on Thursday
amid mounting allegations of fraud in a poll seen as a test of
the Afghan government`s commitment to rooting out corruption.

Saturday`s vote was the first since a presidential
election last year that was nearly derailed by widespread
ballot-box stuffing and tally manipulation. That poll led many
Western powers to question whether they should be supporting
the administration of President Hamid Karzai with military
forces and funds.

This year`s elections have about 2,500 candidates
vying for 249 parliamentary seats. Tallies have been dribbling
into a central tabulation center in the capital since Saturday
and officials said today that they had finished with about 67
percent of the ballots from one province - relatively peaceful

There are two seats allocated to Panjshir - one for a
man and one for a woman - and the results released today give
large leads to Zahir Sadat and Rahilah Salim. Both candidates
are incumbents: Salim is a judge and Sadat is a doctor who
runs a private clinic in Kabul.

Full preliminary results are expected in early
October, but final tallies won`t be announced until the end of
October at the earliest, because of the time needed to
investigate fraud charges. With so many candidates running,
there is a large pool of people likely to file complaints.

Election day was marred by rocket attacks and bombings
at polling stations in volatile areas. At least 21 civilians
and nine police officers were killed during the voting,
according to the election commission and the Interior

Observers complained that many anti-fraud measures did
not work.

Some people were able to wash off supposedly indelible
ink used to mark fingers and therefore prevent multiple
voting, while in some areas poll workers let people use fake
registration cards and allowed children to vote, according to
the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, the main
independent Afghan observer group.

Election commission chairman Fazel Ahmad Manawi said
election officials have been quarantining - or removing from
the count - any suspicious ballot tallies, but declined to say
how many ballots have been held out so far.