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    Deadlock ends as 2nd deputy speaker elected

    KABUL (PAN): The Wolesi Jirga, or lower house of Parliament, finally elected its second deputy speaker in the house administrative board’s polls on Sunday, ending days of a parliamentary deadlock.

    Niamatullah Ghafari, a lawmaker from southern Helmand province, who won 121 votes in the assembly’s general session, was elected second deputy speaker. Of the 125 MPs present, four voted against him.

    On Saturday, four MPs, including Ghafari, ran for the slot, but none could get the minimum number of votes -- 101.

    Lawmakers Mohammad Arif Shah Jahan, Shakila Hashimi, Namatullah Ghafari and Mohammad Nazir Ahmadzai were in the race. As the election went to a second round between Ghafari and Jahan, they walked out of the race after failing to chalk up an outrigh win.

    In the first round, Jahan secured 62 ballots, Hashimi 13, Ghafari 66 and Ahmadzai 45. High vote winners -- Ghafari and Jahan – failed to obtain the required number of ballots in the second round. Jahan secured 71 votes and Ghafari 86 from the 188 MPs present.

    A number of lawmakers suggested Ghafari be declared the winner after Jahan refused to contest the third round.  But others said voting should continue until a candidate obtained the required number of votes.

    The members agreed to take a final decision on the deadlock in the assembly’s general session on Sunday.

    Haji Abdul Zahir Qadir from Nangarhar has been elected as first deputy speaker, lawmaker from Parwan, Abdul Sattar Khawasi, as secretary and Farhad Azimi as deputy secretary on Jan. 23.

    Under Article 87 of the Constitution, both houses of Parliament elect from amongst their members a chairman of the administrative board, with first and second deputy speakers and two lawmakers as the board's secretary and deputy for a year.