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Central & South Asia
Unseated Afghan MPs threaten protests
Disqualified parliamentarians challenge authority of court investigating fraud claims, and threaten to block roads.
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2011 16:43
Karzai's government has said it will implement the court's ruling [Reuters]

Dozens of Afghan MPs unseated by a special election court investigating allegations of fraud and irregularities have threatened to call for protests, including blocking the country's roads.

"If the special court is not absolved, we will call our constituencies to the streets and the president will bear responsibility for what might happen," Haji Zahir Qadeer, an MP from Nengrahar province, told reporters.

A special election court set up by Afghan President Hamid Karzai unseated 61 members of the Afghan parliament - a quarter of the lower house - including its deputy speaker on claims of fraud.

The parliament has been in session for more than four months.

Sediqullah Haqiq, the head of the tribunal, said it had found evidence of fraud in 33 of 34 Afghan provinces. He called the court's ruling "final."

"Those parliamentarians who won seats in parliament through electoral fraud and violation must be prosecuted," he said.

"If fraud is prevented, that is a good thing because people will believe rule of law exists," Saira Sharif, a member of the parliament from Khost province, told Al Jazeera.

"But one questions the manner in which it has been done. Even if the debate over the legality of the special court was settled, why are they announcing the results four months after the parliament opened?"

The court's decision has intensified an ongoing political crisis. For months now, the different branches of the government have disagreed on the results of the vote.

Karzai set up the court to review the results of last year's parliamentary vote that was marred by widespread allegations of fraud.

But Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC), the office responsible for conducting elections, has called the creation of a special court illegal. It says it had weeded out instances of fraud and says the results it announced are final.

Their firmness has been met with threats from the government's attorney general, who ordered the arrest of members of the commission in February.

"Continuing with our initials stance, we fully believe the announcement of election results is the authority of the Election Commission and not any other authority," Tabish Frogh, a spokesperson for the IEC, told Al Jazeera.

Frogh, once again, insisted the special court was illegal according to the constitution.

Unseated parliamentary members also claim that the ruling of the court is political, pointing to the fact that major fraud in recent presidential and district level elections went unnoticed. They have called on the international community to intervene.

"The unseated members are saying they will block the roads, that they have people as well. This is definitely building into a crisis," Sharif said.

Ishaq Aleko, Karzai's attorney general, has told local media that he will implement the court's ruling very soon.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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