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Afghans protest election problems

By Katharine Houreld
Associated Press / November 3, 2010

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KABUL, Afghanistan — Several hundred people took to the streets of Kabul yesterday to protest problems with September’s parliamentary poll, underscoring persistent concerns about the Afghan government’s ability to carry out elections.

Preliminary results were announced last month but final results have not been established. The country’s Electoral Complaints Commission has discarded nearly a quarter of ballots cast, citing fraud. The decision sparked complaints that the body was manipulating results to make sure favored candidates won. A number of candidates demanded investigations, which are ongoing. There have been small, scattered protests since the Sept. 18 election, with Afghans claiming their votes were not counted or protesting delays in naming the winners.

The vote was supposed to be a way for the government to reaffirm its legitimacy after a badly flawed presidential election last year. Criticism over President Hamid Karzai’s severely flawed reelection damaged relations between the president and his Western allies and the relationship has not recovered.

More than 300 Afghans demonstrated yesterday.

“This was selection, not election,’’ said Siddiq Mansoor Ansari, who ran in eastern Nangarhar province. He said he had documented numerous instances of fraud, during and after the polls.

“We will continue our demonstrations all over the country. We will block roads if they don’t listen to us,’’ he said.

Also yesterday, a NATO service member died after an insurgent attack in volatile southern Afghanistan, the coalition said in a statement. The death follows a bombing that killed two coalition service members Monday night.

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