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Afghan election cancelled by Poll

manawiKABUL: 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 said 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.

Early this week, the IEC cancelled all votes cast at another two polling centres after finding evidence of fraud in a partial recount.

Cancelling the ballots is likely to intensify concerns that the election could descend into a fiasco of fraud similar to the presidential poll. -AFP

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