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Afghanistan lawmakers approve new electoral law

The Afghan Parliament approved two new electoral laws Wednesday that will take effect in the elections next spring. According to Tolo News of Afghanistan [official website], the statutes in question will provide a legal framework for the quarantine of ballot boxes and the creation of a complaints commission. Both houses of the Afghan Parliament have been working with President Hamid Karzai [official website] to establish laws for the election [unofficial statute translation, PDF] of his successor, and recent delays in the statutory process have threatened to delay the election itself. In order for the statute to become law, Karzai will have to approve it no more than 15 days after it was approved by Parliament [official website]. Voter registration for next spring's elections will open this Saturday, and these laws were passed with the legislative intent to provide security for voters, regardless of which candidate they support before the election season even begins.

These developments come as a direct result of an April 2012 Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) announcement that it would change the country's parliamentary election proceedings in an effort to eliminate future fraud. That announcement was the result of problems with the previous election. In August 2011 Karzai dissolved [JURIST report] the special elections court that he had created to investigate election fraud in parliamentary elections. The court was criticized as a vehicle for overturning the electoral gains made by many of Karzai's political opponents. In June 2011 the court had invalidated the election results [JURIST Report] of nearly 25 percent of the assembly seats. Karzai then ordered that the seating of parliament be delayed [JURIST report] by a month in order to further investigate the findings. Though Karzai conceded that the IEC retains ultimate authority on election results, the IEC stated that it would review the findings and documents of the court in the April 2012 announcement (above).

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