October 18th, 2010
03:31 PM ET

Afghan election panel disqualifies 10 percent of ballots

About 10 percent of votes cast in last month's parliamentary elections in Afghanistan have been disqualified due to suspected fraud, a spokesman for the Independent Election Commission said Monday.

Ballots from 571 polling centers have been tossed and another 1,177 polling stations are under scrutiny, said spokesman Noor Ahmad Noor.

Noor said 242 of the total 5,442 polling centers had not yet completed counting and entered results into the system.

The commission again delayed its announcement of preliminary results until Wednesday. They were supposed to have been released at the beginning of October and were then postponed to Sunday.

Many Afghans were denied the right to vote in parliamentary elections because the country is too dangerous and because of logistical failures, an independent election watchdog has said.

The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan said millions of Afghans cast ballots bravely "against the backdrop of a violent campaign season. In some areas, gunmen disrupted voting and seized ballot boxes, and observers themselves were threatened.

Allegations of ballot-box stuffing and bribery have also tainted the vote.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai pledged to cut corruption and increase transparency after he was reelected in a August 2009 election that was later deemed fraudulent by the United Nations and other vote-monitoring organizations.

The September 18 parliamentary vote was viewed widely as a key test for Afghanistan's fledgling democracy and the latest allegations of fraud could present Karzai with further problems.

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