MPs split on allegation against Amarkhel
KABUL (Pajhwok): Wolesi Jirga members were on Monday divided into two groups over Kabul police chief’s electoral fraud allegation against the Independent Election Commission (IEC) secretary, with some entering a fierce verbal clash.
IEC secretary Ziaul Haq Amarkhel wanted to transfer electoral materials, including ballot papers, to the 21st police district of Kabul city and to the Sarobi district on the election day, but Kabul police chief Gen. Zahir prevented his move.
Gen. Zahir later accused Amarkhel of rigging by trying to transfer the election materials, an allegation Amarkhel dismissed as unsubstantiated. He said his staff was not allowed by police to dispatch ballot papers to polling centres. He slammed the police action as brazen interference in the commission’s affairs.
Late on Sunday night, presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah told reporters Amarkhel should be suspended forthwith and the issue seriously investigated.
Lower house members, who discussed the issue, were divided into two groups, with one group supporting Amarkhel and the other Kabul police chief.
Hamidullah Tokhi from southern Zabul province said the IEC was independent but not above the law. He said the electoral body should perform all its activities in accordance with the relevant law.
“How can Amarkhel dispatch ballot boxes on his own under which law and principle,” the lawmaker asked.
His remarks were followed by a verbal clash between a lawmaker from southern Kandahar province Mullah Syed Mohammad Akhund with his colleague from Khost province Kamal Nasir Osoli.
Osoli defended Amarkhel while Akhund supported the Kabul police chief. Akund tried to hit Osoli with fists but another lawmaker from Kandahar Mohammad Naeem Hamidzai Lalai was quick to tightly hold Osoli’s hands.
But the clash did not end here. Tokhi stopped talking the issue and started threatening Osoli. Tokhi was stopped midway by yet another lawmaker from Kandahar Abdul Rahim Ayubi, who himself locked in a verbal clash with Tokhi.
The hullabaloo came to an end with intervention of security personnel and members of the house administrative delegation.
Similarly, a lawmaker from central Panjsher province Zahir Sadat also accused Amarkhel of secretly dispatching ballot papers to be used in favour of a particular candidate.
He urged President Karzai and the IEC chief to suspend Amarkhel for the sake of transparency in the electoral process.
But Ayubi said allegations of a police officer should not lead to raising questions about the legitimacy of a national process. “This is not acceptable to the people, who had already made their decision,” the lawmaker said.
He also urged Abdullah’s team not to threaten the Afghans, otherwise the country could plunge into deep political crisis.
“The reforms team should no longer threaten people and no one can remove Amarkhel from his post,” Ayubi said.
Female MP Sukria Barakzai said threats could not change people’s views and no one should threaten the Afghans.
“I ask the IEC and the police why ballot papers did not reach eastern parts of Kabul like its western, northern and southern parts. Have the people east of Kabul no right to vote? They have been denied their right,” she said.
The outspoken lawmaker alleged governors and police chiefs in Kabul and other provinces had worked in favour of a particular candidate. She asked the IEC to separate bogus votes from valid ones.
Several other lower house members called for separation of valid and invalid votes.
Speaker Abul Rauf Ibrahimi remarked the issue of Amarkhel had split the house into two groups. He said the IEC should produce valid documents about the issue and a decision should come in this regard from the relevant quarters.
Ibrahimi said the two electoral bodies should maintain impartiality so that the final results were acceptable to the Afghans.
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