Election Day

KABUL (APN): The Lower House of Parliament has set a deadline of two days for the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) as well as the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to decide on complaints of provincial council candidates. Following a heated debate of three days, the Wolesi Jirga summoned ECC and IEC officials and informed them of the ultimatum for adjudication on the complaints. An ECC said their decisions with regard to complaints and election results were based on law and final in all respects. Any amendments to the decisions would be illegal. Fahim Hakim said the votes declared invalid had been indicated by the IEC. Hakim admitted there had been rigging in the elections but it was not clear as to who was responsible for the fraud. Once identified, those involved in the rigging would be referred to judicial organs, he argued. IEC Secretary Daud Ali Najafi claimed the election outcome had been announced according to the ECC decision. If the UN-supported body was ready, he added, the IEC would recount the votes polled by every provincial council member. Anyone accusing IEC staff of involvement in rigging should approach the commission with concrete evidence, said Najafi, who promised: "I will hand the wrongdoer over to attorney's office." Provincial council candidates took their complaints to the Wolesi Jirga after the IEC unveiled final poll results. Ustad Musa, a provincial council candidate from Kabul, claimed having documentary evidence of his success in preliminary results. But later on, Musa alleged, he was declared unsuccessful. Haji Ashiqullah, a contender from eastern Kunar province, also insisted he was a winner according to the vote count at the polling centre. However, the final outcome showed him among the failed candidate. He accused the IEC of selling the votes cast in his favour. Wolesi Jirga members demanded the trial of those involved in rigging. After a long debate, Speaker Yunus Qanuni ruled the ECC should hear complaints of provincial council candidates, and declare results by Wednesday. If the aspirants were unsatisfied with the results, he said, they could take their cases to courts. The provincial council and presidential elections were held simultaneously on August 20, 2009. mnm/mud

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