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Elections massively rigged in Paktia, allege candidates

Elections massively rigged in Paktia, allege candidates

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Oct 23, 2018 - 19:41

GARDEZ (Pajhwok): Protesting candidates in southeastern Paktia province on Tuesday rejected Saturday’s Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon elections as massively rigged.

Addressing a press conference here, Wolesi Jirga candidate Syed Jamaluddin Asifkhel alleged government officials such as district administrative heads, police chiefs and others supported certain candidates during elections.

He said votes polled without biometric verification were not acceptable to them and fair and unfair votes in Paktia should be separated.

“Mostly district administrative heads and former commanders committed irregularities during election. Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon) staff was not neutral and they sided with certain candidates in return for money and secondly technical faults affected the election process,” he said.

Lawmaker Mohammad Naeem Ahmadzai, seeking his reelection, also alleged massive rigging in the elections and sale of votes. He said some candidates pressured government officials.

Sharif Zurmati, another candidate, said he would continue his struggle until those involved in rigging were exposed and their votes invalidated.

“We have evidence that powerful individuals hijacked ballot boxes and stuffed them in favor of specific candidates. We have handed over evidence and complains to the Independent Election Complaints Commission (IECC),” he said.

These candidates asked the IECC to seriously investigate their complaints, otherwise mafia groups would make it to parliament.

Provincial Council member Mohammad Rahman Qaderi mentioned rigging, disorder, mismanagement and shortcoming of the IEC during the conduct of the elections and said the provincial government supported some candidates in some areas.

 “People desperately waited for this election but in areas where the provincial government and incumbent lawmakers see their defeat, they created disorder.”

Governor Shamim Khan Katawazai acknowledged the turnout was low but rejected rigging and fraud allegations. He said they had tried hard to hold free and fair election in the province.

“Provincial government officials including security personnel, who interfered in the elections, would be identified and punished,” he said.

Khwaja Aminullah Fazali, IEC head for Paktia, acknowledged mismanagement during the elections and said technical issues, threats from militants and powerful individuals created problems in the election process.

“In Zazai Aryub, Laja wa Mangal and Merzak districts, powerful individuals beat election staff and seized ballot boxes,” he said.

It is worth mentioning besides Paktia, candidates in other provinces are also complaining about massive fraud in the polls.

nh/ma

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