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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Afghanistan Election Results

Afghanistan releases majority of election results.

Afghanistan Election Results Updates! Afghan election officials failed to deliver Wednesday on a promise of unequivocal final results from fraud-tainted September parliamentary elections as the country's attorney general cast further doubt on the poll by announcing a wide-ranging investigation into the vote.

More than two months since the Sept. 18 poll, many had hoped the final results would put the vote to rest, allowing the government to move on from debates about ballot-stuffing and voter intimidation and possibly even giving President Hamid Karzai a small success after last year's fraud-marred presidential election nearly undermined his administration.

The Afghan election commission certified results from 33 out of 34 provinces, but said Wednesday it had not been able to decide what to do about eastern Ghazni province, where a host of problems clouded the ballot even after substantial investigations.

The parliamentary ballot has been watched carefully by Karzai's western allies for signs that the Afghan president is committed to curbing corruption in his government. The poll is the first since last year's disastrous presidential election, which pushed some NATO countries to threaten to withdraw troops and aid.

Results of this poll, released just ahead of President Barack Obama's December Afghan review, come at a time when NATO and its allies need the Karzai government to be seen as a strong partner.

The United Nations welcomed the results, saying in a statement that even though there was fraud and cheating, election officials showed commitment to identifying and dealing with these problems, marking "a significant step in the development of Afghanistan's national electoral capacity."

Abdullah Ahmadzai, a member of the commission, said that a decision still must be made as to in Ghazni where many polling stations were closed, others were excluded because of fraud and there was almost nonexistent turnout in some districts.

As a result, no candidates from the majority Pashtun ethnic group won seats — a potentially inflammatory result in an already volatile province. Instead all 11 of the winning candidates are ethnic Hazaras, who tend to live in the safer parts of Ghazni.

"There are two possibilities: one is certification of Ghazni's results and announcing them, and one will be any decision otherwise, which will include a rerun of the election," Ahmadzai said. "So between these two options, we will make one decision, either to certify the result and announce it in one week's time, or a rerun."

He added that a rerun, if needed, might not happen immediately, saying it could be suspended indefinitely until security in the province improves.

The Ghazni results were delayed because commissioners are trying to negotiate a settlement with the winning candidates in the hope that they will accept a suspension of the election, according to an international diplomat who was briefed on the discussions. This would allow sitting Ghazni representatives to retain their seats until safety improves in the province enough to hold a fair vote.

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