Nine MPs barred in bid to settle poll stalemate

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The Independent Online

Nine members of the Afghan parliament are to lose their seats over allegations of election fraud.

The accusations surfaced immediately after the messy September 2010 vote and peaked in June, when a special court appointed by President Hamid Karzai called for the removal of 62 MPs. The stalemate has prevented the President appointing a Cabinet or nominating new Supreme Court justices, and sparked street demonstrations

MPs and many of Afghanistan's international allies said the special court violated Afghan law, which rules that an official fraud-monitoring body is the final arbiter of such complaints. That group had already discarded 1.3 million ballots for fraud, and disqualified 19 winning candidates for cheating.

The dispute threatened to escalate into a constitutional crisis, with the courts, the President and parliament all claiming the right to make the final ruling about the election.

It has also proved a serious encumbrance at a time when the international community is pushing to strengthen the Afghan government so that Kabul can take more responsibility for security and governance.

The election commission said the nine names were selected not as a result of political compromise but after a thorough review of allegations brought by the court. Nine MPs who previously lost their seats over the fraud allegations will be reinstated. AP