Prague, 9 November 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Certification of Afghanistan's parliamentary election results has been delayed once again -- this time by an ongoing investigation into complaints of widespread cheating in Kandahar Province.
Finalized results from the race for the National Assembly's lower chamber, the People's Council (Wolesi Jirga), initially were expected last month. But that certification process has been delayed repeatedly due to allegations of fraud.
RFE/RL Afghan Service correspondent Ahmad Hanayesh attended a news conference of the Afghan-UN Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) in Kabul on today, where announcement of the final certified results had been expected.
"The JEMB have confirmed the final results in 33 of the 34 Afghan provinces. The only province without certified final results is now Kandahar. The delay comes because official results have still not been received yet from some parts of Kandahar Province [where fraud investigations continue.] In a few days time, election officials say Kandahar's results also will be confirmed [and the certification process will be complete]," Hanayesh reported.
Amid the fraud allegations, 50 Afghan election staff workers have been fired. Three percent of the ballot boxes also have been removed from the count due to clear evidence of fraud. Election officials have rejected calls from some candidates for a complete vote recount.
Analysts predict nearly half of the 249-seat People's Council will be taken by former mujahedin fighters who resisted the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and then led the country into factional fighting and civil war during the early 1990s.
Some former members of the fundamentalist Taliban regime also are expected to win seats. Already, 68 women are listed as winners. That is slightly more than the 25 percent of the assembly seats reserved for women.
But even after the results are announced, it will not be immediately obvious where power lies in the lower house. Nearly all of the candidates ran as independents and have not allied themselves with any individuals or political bloc.
JEMB Chairman Besmellah Besmel told RFE/RL that the delay in Kandahar will not slow down the creation of the 102-member upper chamber of parliament, the Council of Elders. "The provincial councils will start working on [10 November] and their first session will focus on taking care of administrative matters," he said. "They will choose their president and secretary and other necessary posts. On [12 November], the upper chamber of parliament will begin. From each of the 34 provinces, two people will be appointed to the upper chamber. The other 34 members will be appointed by President [Hamid] Karzai [in accordance with the constitution]."
The vote on 18 September has been wrongly portrayed as the final step of the internationally backed Bonn agreement for Afghanistan's post-Taliban democratic transition. UN officials involved in the election process will remain in Afghanistan until all the terms of the Bonn process have been completed. That is now expected to take place during the third week of December when both chambers of the parliament have been formally constituted.
(RFE/RL's Afghan Service correspondent Ahmad Hanayesh contributed to this report from Kabul; translations by Farida Anwary and Mustafa Sediqi in Prague.)
RFE/RL's complete coverage of the historic September 18, 2005, legislative elections in Afghanistan.