The Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Thursday announced that it rejects the earlier declaration by the country's electoral complaints commission invalidating all votes cast in Kabul province during the October parliamentary election.
IEC spokesman Sayed Hafizullah Hashemi during a live televised press conference said that vote count will continue normally and the preliminary results for the remaining 13 provinces will be announced within a week.
Alireza Rohani, a spokesman for the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission of Afghanistan (IECC) had earlier said that major fraud and mismanagement on the part of the IEC, together with other documents, are the reasons why the votes were declared invalid.
The election commission must now hold new elections in Kabul within the next seven days, according to Afghan voting legislation.
Hashemi and IEC head Sayed Abdul Badi Sayyad said that the decision on the IECC's part was hasty, baseless, politically motivated and illegal.
However, according to the voting legislation, the IECC does have the power to declare a certain constituency's vote invalid.
Sayyad said Kabul's preliminary results had not been announced yet and the IECC could have waited until after the results to announce such a decision.
Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed, the head of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA), an independent election monitoring agency, said he does not believe the election commission has the capacity to hold a new election within the next week as stated under the law.
It is possible that votes in other provinces will also be declared invalid, and if that occurs, the election commission will face a ‘serious technical and operational challenge,’ Rasheed said.
Baqi Samandar, a candidate from Kabul, said that generally speaking, the decision to declare the election invalid was ‘the right decision,’ since so many things went wrong during the vote.
Parliamentary elections took place in 32 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces on October 20. Due to security problems and organizational difficulties, voting took place in 400 constituencies a day later.
In the province of Kandahar, voting was delayed by a week after a deadly attack on the provincial chief of police.
In Kabul, 1.6 million people were registered to vote and around 1 million people cast their ballots across 558 polling stations.
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