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Afghanistan election commission removes 9 lawmakers

The Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) [official website] announced on Sunday that nine lawmakers will be removed from their parliamentary positions [IEC backgrounder] for election fraud in the disputed September 2010 election [JURIST report]. The representatives are to be removed [AP report] because they allegedly did not receive a majority vote [LAT report] in 2010. Though many contest the constitutionality of the removal process, President Hamid Karzai [official profile] has said that the IEC has the final authority over election complaints [PAN report] reviewed and determined by a special court. After the special court ordered the removal of 62 lawmakers in June, a determination overturned by the IEC [JURIST report], the recent IEC announcement appears to be a compromise meant to settle the 2010 election controversy.

With the US withdrawing troops, ongoing disputes over irregularities in last September's parliamentary elections have raised doubts about the stability of the Afghan government. In January, Karzai postponed the seating [JURIST report] of Parliament following a request by the special court for more time to look into allegations of fraud surrounding the elections. Karzai had promised [JURIST report] to have the special court review the election results in time to seat the election by the original January deadline. But the IEC claimed that the special did not have legal authority to question the results that it certifies because the law says it has the final say in determining the elections results. In November, the Afghanistan Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) [official website] disqualified 21 candidates [JURST report] for electoral fraud after finding widespread voting irregularities 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. In October, the IEC invalidated 1.3 million votes [JURIST report], nearly a quarter of the 5.6 million votes cast nationwide, due to findings of fraud. The IEC found that the 2,543 polling stations where the votes had been cast did not follow IEC procedures.

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