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Afghan President Says Election Commission Will Resolve Poll Dispute

Defeated candidates of Afghanistan's September 2010 election wait for the resumption of proceedings of a special electoral tribunal in a Kabul courtroom, Afghanistan, June 23, 2011. (file photo)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has issued a decree giving the country's Independent Election Commission the final say in election results.

The decision Wednesday is the latest attempt to resolve an impasse that has gripped the Afghan parliament since its inauguration in January.

A special Afghan court set up by Mr. Karzai disqualified 62 lawmakers, a quarter of the 249-seat lower house of parliament, following an investigation into allegations of massive voter fraud during parliamentary elections last September.

But critics said the court was an illegal attempt by the Afghan president to reshape the parliament more to his liking.

The president said Wednesday that the Independent Election Commission will now be responsible for deciding whether any lawmakers should be removed. The decree dissolves the special elections tribunal, with Mr. Karzai noting that the courts do not have the power to change election results.

IEC officials on Wednesday welcomed the presidential decree and disputed reports that it obligated the commission to abide by the special court's previous ruling.

The final results from last September's elections for the lower house of parliament were not announced until December 1, after officials reviewed about 5,000 fraud claims. Charges included vote-rigging and voter intimidation by local warlords.

The Independent Election Commission disqualified nearly one-quarter of the votes and 24 candidates who appeared to win seats.

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