While announcing the long-delayed results of the September 18th polls at a crowded news conference in Kabul, the chairman of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission Fazil Ahmad Manwee said his staff has certified results in 33 out of the country's 34 provinces.
He cited "technical problems" for withholding the results from the volatile Ghazni province where most of the polling stations were shut due to lack of security. Even in areas where polling facilities were open, he says, people did not turn up to vote.
The election commission's chief says that despite all the shortcomings, the parliamentary vote was a major success for the government, the Afghan nation and for the country's international supporters.
In a statement issued in Kabul, the United Nations mission in Afghanistan has cautiously welcomed the declaration of results. It says that the formation of a new parliament will be a major step in improving democratic governance and the capacity of Afghanistan's institutions to serve the Afghan people.
The elections for the 249-seat lower house of parliament or Wolesi Jirga, were held on September 18 and the final results were originally due in October. But Afghan election authorities delayed the announcement pending investigations into more than 5,000 complaints of rigging, irregularities and intimidation of voters by local warlords.
The allegations led to disqualification of 24 candidates who were initially declared winners. Initial scrutiny also led to cancellation of nearly a quarter of the 5.6-million votes polled.
But speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the election commission's chief ruled out staging re-election in any province.
Shortly before the final results were announced, scores of losing candidates and their supporters once again took to the streets in Kabul to protest against what they alleged was a corrupt and shameful polling process.
President Hamid Karzai while addressing a meeting in the Afghan capital said peaceful protests is the fundamental right of all candidates but he condemns violent protests.
Mr. Karzai said that blocking the road and launching violence because they have not got a seat is not the right thing to do, calling it a malicious act against Afghanistan.
The Afghan president's own re-election in last year's presidential election was marred by widespread fraud. Critics say that consistent allegations of vote fraud in both elections have raised questions about the credibility of Mr. Karzai's government that has been under fire for failing to check rising corruption in official institutions.
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