Aug 222011
Authors: McClatchey-Tribune

KABUL, Afghanistan — After months of controversy over the last year’s tainted elections, an independent Afghan commission announced Sunday that nine members of the National Assembly will lose their seats and be replaced by new members.

In December, President Hamid Karzai created a separate tribunal to sort out the allegations of fraud that dogged elections to the lower house of parliament since they were held in September. Karzai had sought to invalidate the fraudulent election of 62 MPs.

But critics alleged that many, if not most, of those 62 members were opponents of Karzai and that his action was an illicit attempt to remake the elections. In recent weeks, the United Nations intervened, hoping to influence the outcome of the commission’s deliberations. The U.N. had sought to overturn 17 results.

In making the announcement Sunday, Fazel Ahamd Manawi, the head of Independent Elections Commission, noted the pressure said it played no role in its decision.

“Today we have taken a very difficult and tough decision in order to end the election dispute though there was pressure from certain circles within the government,” Manawi said at a news conference.

The new National Assembly members MPs include eight men and one woman from different provinces across Afghanistan, including the volatile southern province of Helmand.

Some believe that the commission’s decision is the result of a compromise made among representatives of the president, IEC and international community.

Ahmad Zia Rafat, who was spokesman for the Electoral Complaint Commission, saod Sunday’s decision violated Afghan election law.

“Once the results are announced, no organization has the authority to change it,” said Rafat, who is a law lecturer at Kabul university. “It is not believed that this decision of the election commission will end the crisis; indeed we are entering another phase of crisis.”

Only about two weeks ago, Karzai in a decree gave full authority to the elections panel IEC to announce the final decision and put end to the electoral dispute.

“I am happy about the announcement, but our national process has been damaged. I was winner, but the Electoral Complaints Commission delisted me, without any evidence,” said Ashoqullah Wafa, a newly announced winner from the northern province of Baghlan.

Another member of the parliament, who lost his seat, called Sunday’s announcement illegal.

“This is absolutely illegal decision, no one has the authority to bring changes in the result once it is announced, I don’t think this announcement will be enforced,” said Shaker Kargar, who was elected from the northwestern province of Faryab.

“It is based on a political deal between IEC chairman and the palace,” said Kargar, who is i his second term. Gul Mohammad Pahlawan will replace Kargar if the decision of IEC is enforced.

“If he (Gul Mohammad Pahlawan) had votes he would have been announced as winner in the beginning, the ECC would not have removed him,” said Kargar.

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