Crisis Over Afghan Election Results Continues

Over the weekend, both of Afghanistan's electoral bodies declared that the controversial parliamentary election results are final. The problem is the attorney general of Afghanistan announced at the same time that allegations of vast criminal misconduct should nullify the entire election. President Karzai has so far failed to inaugurate the new parliament, raising suspicions that he favors throwing out the results.

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It's been nearly three months since Afghanistan held parliamentary elections, but the new parliament has yet to convene.

Over the weekend, the country's two electoral bodies confirmed final results. But on the same day, Afghanistans attorney general demanded the results be thrown out in favor of a full recount.

Watching it all is Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who may have his own reasons for letting the crisis continue, as NPRs Quil Lawrence reports.

Unidentified Man: (Speaking foreign language).

QUIL LAWRENCE: Candidates and voters from the September 18th elections have marched peacefully through Kabul regularly since election day, denouncing fraud, intimidation, and alleged manipulation of the results. And theyve probably got good reasons. Afghanistans electoral bodies threw out 25 percent of the votes cast and disqualified 24 candidates for fraud.

Still the electoral bodies and the international community endorsed a final vote tally clearing the way for the new parliament to sit by next month. But there has been some push back.

Mr. RAHMATULLAH NAZARI (Deputy Attorney General, Afghanistan): (Speaking foreign language).

LAWRENCE: We demand the nullification of the election results, said deputy attorney General Rahmatulah Nazai, citing the rights of those whose votes were disqualified. But many observers see ulterior motives. President Karzai has publically leaned toward the attorney general.

Member of parliament Fowzia Kufi, who won re-election, says Karzais government is afraid of the new parliament.

Ms. FOWZIA KUFI (Member of Parliament, Afghanistan): We give him enough trouble and so he doesnt want to have continue having such trouble.

LAWRENCE: The results do look like trouble for Karzai, particularly because violence shut down polling stations in many Pashtun areas, and Pashtuns, like Karzai, are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. With the current results, theyve lost much of their power in parliament.

But Fowzia Kufi says Karzai should inaugurate the new parliament before even more Afghans get disillusioned with democracy.

Ms. KUFI: If President Karzai try to ignore this choice, then the other alternative will be Talibanization and more war to this country, which I dont think this nation is in a position to sacrifice.

LAWRENCE: The parliament is supposed to be at work solving problems, not becoming a crisis of its own, says Nader Naderi, head of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan.

Mr. NADER NADERI (Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan): The attorney general office has no right to interfere in this process.

LAWRENCE: Naderi says Afghan law states that only the election commissions can rule on the election. But with a bit of Afghan perspective, he says, at least theyre arguing about the law, not shooting.

Mr. NADERI: And thats a step forward, and that need to be acknowledged.

LAWRENCE: President Karzais spokesman said today that he is not legally able to intervene in the dispute, which may mean it ends up in the supreme court, and that would almost certainly delay the new parliament from getting down to business.

Quil Lawrence, NPR news, Kabul.

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