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Observers Debate Legitimacy of Afghanistan Election

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Sean Maroney

Observers of Afghanistan's parliamentary election on Saturday are debating whether or not the result will be legitimate.  The Afghan Election Complaints Commission says it has received reports of alleged irregularities, but as ballots continue to pour in from remote provinces, officials say the final outcome is weeks away.  

The main Afghan election observer group says the legitimacy of the balloting in Saturday's parliamentary election is questionable.

The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan says it has "serious concerns about the quality" of the elections, given the insecurity and numerous complaints of fraud.

Ahmad Nader Nadery is the organization's head. He said there are many serious questions about the quality of the election.  He says his group is insisting the integrity of peoples' votes is protected, because Afghans made a lot of sacrifices to participate.

Alessandro Parziale is the country head of Democracy International, which also monitored the vote Saturday.  He says they are still collecting information from the group's teams of observers from around the country.  

Parziale says that a day after the voting, he believes it is very difficult to judge the success of the election. "For the moment for us, it is very difficult to say if there was or not any fraud.  It would be irresponsible saying something today," he said.

Preliminary election results are expected next month, with final results likely announced at the end of October after any complaints of fraud or misconduct are resolved.

The Afghan Election Complaints Commission says it has received reports of alleged irregularities, including late-opening polling centers, ballot shortages and voter registration fraud.

The NATO-led international security force also says it recorded more than 300 incidents of election-related violence.

The Afghan interior minister reports at least 22 people died in election-related violence across the country.

On Sunday, the Independent Election Commission said the bodies of three elections workers kidnapped Saturday in northern Afghanistan have been found.

Despite this, IEC chairman Fazal Ahmad Mainawi says the election was a success. He said that he accepts there were some shortcomings.  He says that was to be expected because of Afghanistan's situation.  He promises his organization will investigate all complaints.

Afghan election officials are estimating 3.6-million people voted Saturday, much lower than the nearly six-million people who voted in last year's presidential election.

More than 2,500 candidates were running for 249 seats in the lower house of Afghanistan's parliament.  Nearly 300,000 Afghan troops and police, backed by 150,000 international troops, provided security during the vote.

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