Afghan poll watchdog invalidates Kabul’s parliamentary vote

Kabul: Afghanistan’s Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) on Thursday invalidated all votes cast during the parliamentary elections in Kabul constituency due to the widespread charges of irregularities and fraud recorded in the voting.

“The votes cast in the Kabul province on October 20-21 are invalidated under the directions of the election law,” IECC spokesman Ali Reza Rohani said at a press conference here.

The spokesman said they received 2,767 complaints in Kabul regarding “election irregularities, fraud, electoral crimes and violations of the election law by the Election Commission”, Efe news reported.

There are documents and proof that support the accuracy of the claims, which if true threaten the “fairness and transparency of the process”, Rohani said, adding that the materials of at least 73 polling stations were moved from their original sites for the sake of fraud.

“The decision was taken after all complaints regarding voting were assessed and handled one by one and the problems and challenges in the process were professionally assessed and analyzed by the commission,” said IECC Chairman Abdul Azizi Ariaey.

All votes in Kabul have been annulled and the election will be conducted again in the province, he added.

Kabul accounts for more than a quarter of the 4 million votes around cast around the country and holds 33 of the 250 seats in Parliament.

The IECC suspended at least five employees of the Election Commission over the issue and fined them $1,300 each.

The suspended officials included Ahmad Shah Zamanzai, head of the secretariat of the IEC, and Awla Rahman Rodwal, provincial chief of the poll body for Kabul.

The charges against these and other IEC employees will be investigated and decided on later.

The primary results of the parliamentary elections of more than half of the country’s 33 provinces were announced over the past two weeks. The remaining results will be revealed over the coming days, officials said.

The results for Kabul were scheduled to be announced on December 1 but were delayed for weeks due to technical difficulties and recounts, before being invalidated by the IECC.