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Afghanistan officials disqualify 21 parliamentary candidates for fraud

The Afghanistan Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) [official website] on Sunday disqualified 21 candidates who had participated in September's parliamentary elections [IEC backgrounder] for electoral fraud. The ECC disqualified the candidates after finding widespread irregularities [Al Jazeera report] in the voting in 12 provinces. Of the disqualified candidates, 19 had either won or were leading in their districts, seven of which were incumbents and two were second place finishers in districts where the first place finisher was also disqualified. The disqualified candidates comprise almost one-tenth of those elected to the 249-seat Wolesi Jirga [official website], the Afghan Assembly. According to the ECC, the candidates do not have a right to appeal [AFP report] the decision. With the disqualification of the 21 candidates, it is expected that the ECC will certify the election results within days.

While the ECC has disqualified candidates, the body and the Independent Election Commission face charges of possible voter fraud [JURIST report]. The IEC was responsible for investigating complaints of voter fraud in the country, and is accused of tampering with the results. The Attorney General's office expressed concern that the IEC did not provide sufficient reason for last month's invalidation of 1.3 million votes [JURIST report], constituting nearly one-fourth of the 5.6 million votes cast nationwide. Following the disputed 2009 presidential election [JURIST news archive], the ECC invalidated results from 210 polling stations [JURIST report] and found clear and convincing evidence of fraud. In April, Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, blamed foreign officials for the extensive irregularities [JURIST report] that occurred during the presidential election.

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