First partial Afghan poll results released
Last Updated: Thursday, September 23, 2010, 20:43
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 Panjshir.

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 Ministry.

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.


First Published: Thursday, September 23, 2010, 20:43

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