More votes in Afghan election cancelled

Afghanistan`s election authorities have cancelled votes cast at dozens of polling centres.

Updated: Sep 30, 2010, 20:31 PM IST

Kabul: Afghanistan`s election authorities
have cancelled votes cast at dozens of polling centres in the
recent parliamentary poll after finding evidence of fraud, an
electoral official on Thursday.

Fazil Ahmad Manawi, head of the Independent Election
Commission (IEC) said any IEC agents found responsible for
fraud would be prosecuted.

"The commission has invalidated the votes from 39
polling centres," Manawi told reporters.

Ballots cast at another 38 polling centres would be
recounted due to suspicion of fraud, he said.

He did not give the exact number of cancelled ballots
but said each polling centre had between 1,200 and 7,200
ballot papers.

The detected fraud ranged from ballot-stuffing to
multiple voting, he said, adding that at some polling centres,
ballots had been evenly divided between two candidates.

Manawi said he would investigate election workers
responsible for the polling centres where most of the fraud
detected so far took place.

"The election was a national event, lots of money has
been spent on it, lots of lives were lost," he said, referring
to Taliban violence that cost around 22 lives.

"We won`t allow any wrong doing. Anyone found involved
in fraud will be held accountable. You will see lots of our
staff being introduced to relevant legal authorities for
investigation," he told reporters.

Afghanistan held its second post-Taliban parliamentary
election on September 18. Final results are expected late next
month.

Former warlords accused of war crimes, illegal militia
leaders and corrupt ex-government officials joined more than
2,500 candidates in the race for the 249 seats in the lower
house of the parliament.

The election took place amid violence and intimidation
from the Taliban, and widespread expectations of fraud
following the presidential poll last year, in which more than
a million ballots were cancelled due to irregularities.

Most of the fraudulent ballots were in favour of Hamid
Karzai, who was returned for a second five-year term.

PTI