Election Ruling Stokes Afghan Division

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KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 12 (UPI) — Afghan lawmakers expressed division over a decision by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to order an election tribunal to finalize last year’s election.

Lawmakers in Kabul have squared off over access to ballots from last year’s election for the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of Parliament. Election officials threw out some votes because of fraud allegations and the latest uproar further threatens a notoriously corrupt political climate in Afghanistan.

Karzai ordered the Afghan Independent Election Committee to finalize the contested results from last year’s election.

Yunos Qanuni, a sitting lawmaker, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, that Karzai’s orders were part of a “deliberate plan” to create a crisis in Afghanistan with the goal of setting the stage for “a power grab” in the country.

Afghan lawmakers have opposed Karzai in the past and freshman legislators are seen as more hostile to the Afghan president than during previous terms.

Daud Sultanzoi, one of the 62 candidates granted a parliamentary seat by a special tribunal, told the news agency, however, that court decisions regarding the elections were good for the country.

“The court decision is a binding and enforced by Islamic law,” he said.

More than 5 million votes were cast in the parliamentary contest last year, though the IEC threw out 1.2 million ballots because of widespread irregularities and fraud.

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