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Protesting candidates want Kabul votes declared invalid

Protesting Candidates Want Kabul Votes Declared Invalid

KABUL – Dozens of unsuccessful Wolesi Jirga candidates and hundreds of supporters have called for invalidation of votes cast in Kabul, asking the judiciary to prosecute corrupt election officials.
The long-awaited preliminary results of Kabul’s October 20 and 21 parliamentary elections were released on January 15, a move that sparked an outcry among losing candidates and their supporters.
Election watchdogs have also slammed the election commission and accused them of electoral fraud.
Protestors on Tuesday called for a repeat election, which they said should be held with this year’s planned presidential elections.
Tuesday’s demonstrators meanwhile blocked off four routes connecting Kabul with other provinces for a few hours and voiced their grievances.
The candidates and their supporters called on government to prosecute all IEC staff members involved in electoral fraud, including IEC commissioners, the IEC secretariat head and former head of IEC’s Kabul office.
The protesters warned they would continue to protest until their demands were met.
“We came out today to call for justice. We will continue our demonstrations all over the country, unless Kabul votes are declared invalid,” Fazl Menallah Mumtaz, a protesting candidate said.
“Those who are involved in fraud are Awal Rahman Rodwal who committed big treason against Kabul people. Then the leadership of the election commission, except Maliha Hassan, and Zamanzai, secretary of the election commission,” Saif Rahman Habibi, representative of the political party at today’s demonstration said.
The protesters said Kabul parliamentary elections should be held with the presidential elections on July 20 this year.
“We want the president to introduce members of the election commission to the legal and judicial centers, declare Kabul election results invalid and to hold (a repeat election) with the presidential elections with a new commission,” Daud Kalakani, a protesting candidate said.
“The commission has committed fraud, our votes have not been counted and we want our rights,” Fawad Ibrahimi, a protester said.
IEC chief, Abdul Badi Sayyad, meanwhile said at a press conference on Tuesday that the unhappy candidates should lodge their complaints with the IEC and electoral complaints commission rather than block key routes around the city.
“They should ask for their rights through legal channels. The closure of roads and entrances will annoy the people,” said Sayyad.
Commuters meanwhile voiced their displeasure over the closure of roads in Kabul on Tuesday, which forced many people to resort to walking as cars could not get through the crowds.
“There are no cars, we are walking,” Abdullah a passerby said.
“We were told that the road is closed, so we came here on foot,” Humayun, another passerby said.
(Sahar News)

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