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Afghan Arrest Warrants for Election Oficials Raise Tensions

Controversy over the results of Afghanistan's September parliamentary elections grew deeper on Friday when Afghanistan's attorney general's office issued arrest warrants for four senior election officials.

Deputy Attorney General Rahmatullah Nazari announced arrest warrants for two senior members of the Electoral Complaints Commission; Amanullah Tajali, who heads the audit department and Ahmad Zia Rafat, a commissioner and spokesman. Warrants were also issued for two senior members of the Independent Election Commission; Shafiq Kohistani who heads the information technology department and Noor Mohammed Noor, the spokesman.

On Thursday, arrest warrants were issued for three other members of the Independent Election Commission and three money changers. Additionally a U.N. employee holding dual German and Afghan citizenship was charged with leading a bribery ring.

Afghanistan's attorney general, Mohamed Ishaq Aloko, harshly criticized the election commission on Wednesday after it had issued results from the September 18 parliamentary polls saying the results were released too soon, and should not have been endorsed by the United Nations.

A former legislator marches during a post-election protest in Kabul, 07 Nov 2010

A former legislator marches during a post-election protest in Kabul, 07 Nov 2010

The election commission disqualified nearly one quarter of the votes cast in the election and disqualified 24 winning candidates after receiving more than 5,000 complaints of irregularities.

On Friday election complaints commission spokesman, Zia Ahmad Rafat accused the government of trying to pressure the commission, but he said the commission would resist any political interference.

Speaking to the French news agency (AFP) on Friday, opposition candidate Abdullah Abdullah also criticized the arrest warrants, accusing the government of trying to pressure election commissioners.

A statement from President Karzai's office issued on Thursday noted only that final results had been released, but the statement offered no support to the election commission. The statement called on all losing candidates to avoid violence and submit any complaints to "judicial authorities."

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.