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Afghan Election Group Urges Transparency in Vote Count

An Afghan election worker carries ballot boxes at the warehouse of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission in Kabul, Afghanistan, a few days after parliamentary elections on September 18, 2010.

Afghanistan's main election monitoring body is calling for greater transparency as officials recount votes from the country's recent parliamentary elections.

The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan said Thursday that in at least 23 provinces, observers reported serious recounting problems including missing complaints forms, discrepancies between tally sheet totals and votes in recounted ballot boxes, and candidates' agents being blocked from observing recounts.

FEFA said the lack of transparency shown by election officials is "alarming and at odds with electoral law."

The group also noted a discrepancy in voter turnout numbers. The International Election Commission estimated around 4 million votes were cast during the September 18 vote, but that estimate jumped to more than 5 million when the preliminary results were announced.

Afghan election officials have already disqualified nearly a quarter of the 5.6 million ballots cast in last month's parliamentary election because of fraud and other irregularities.

About 2,500 candidates took part in September's poll, competing for seats in the lower house of parliament.

Final results were originally set to be released on October 31, but could be delayed by claims of voting irregularities.

The election followed last year's presidential vote which was marred by widespread fraud. Roughly one-third of votes cast for President Hamid Karzai were thrown out by the United Nations-backed Electoral Complaints Commission.

Last month's parliamentary poll also went ahead in the face of threats from Taliban militants.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.