MPs stress serious probe into fraud claims

KABUL (Pajhwok): A number of Wolesi Jirga members on Wednesday asked the electoral commissions to properly investigate claims of fraud in last week’s presidential election and arrive at a decision based on people’s genuine votes.
Signs of political crisis have emerged following Saturday’s second round of the presidential election in the wake of fraud allegations. The lower house of parliament discussed the elections. 
Haji Mohammad Hashim, who represents western Farah province, told lawmakers that the people of Afghanistan had widely participated in the election on June 14, when security forces had adopted elaborate measures.
He urged the two electoral bodies --- the Independent Election Commission and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission --- to access all fraud cases so that the results were acceptable to both the candidates and the Afghans.
“We are in no way supportive of fraud and violations. We stress both the commissions should respect people’s votes,” he said.
His colleague from southern Kandahar province Mohammad Naeem Hamidzai Lalai said lawmakers should avoid expressions about the elections which could create political chaos in the country.
He said observers belonging to presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah and his rival Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai had been present in all provinces and they had closely monitored the process.
Abdullah has recently said votes cast in some provinces exceeded the number of eligible voters there. He has also accused President Hamid Karzai and his aides of siding with Ghani in the runoff election.
Abdullah’s campaign team had demanded the removal of IEC Secretary Ziaul Haq Amarkhel, accusing him of trying to commit fraud by dispatching ballot papers to a polling centre in Kabul and the Sarobi district without the authorised police escort. However, Amarkhel had rejected the allegation as unsubstantiated.
Lalai said the IEC should be let do its job and investigate fraud allegations as required by the law because the Afghans would not accept a single vote cast through fraud.
Lawmaker from western Herat province Nahid Farid said although people had widely taken part in the election, there were documents indicating widespread fraud had also been committed.
“We should not stay silent about fraudulent votes because the silence would mean we have also entered this august house through fraud,” she remarked.
She suggested Amarkhel should be suspended because his authority had been questioned.
But Mahmood Khan Sulimankhel from southeastern Paktika province criticised lawmakers for trying to interfere in the affairs of government departments.
“This is not our job to meddle in the affairs of judiciary, government and the electoral bodies. No lawmaker has the right to suspend anyone and everyone should be allowed to do his job.”
Sulimankhel urged Wolesi Jirga members and the people to avoid expressions that could create problems in Afghanistan.
But Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said lawmakers reserved the right to make expressions about the elections in line with the law. But such expressions should not be made to the extent that they altered the results, he said.
Ibrahimi said lawmakers should not float proposals about the election results but they had the right to monitor the election process.

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