Karzai Govt. issues arrest warrants, puts pressure on Afghan poll Officials

Kabul, Nov.26 (ANI): The Hamid Karzai Government's move to issue arrest warrants for several top election officials and to accuse a United Nations worker of leading a bribery ring, is an indication of a course correction in the country's election commission, which is at the centre of announcing controversial parliamentary poll results.

According to the New York Times, the warrants, announced by Deputy Attorney General Rahmatullah Nazari, were part of a broader sweep that included the arrests on Thursday of three people identified as officials of the Independent Election Commission and two money changers, all Afghans.

The government's actions have greatly stepped up pressure on election officials a day after the Independent Election Commission announced final results from the country's September 18 parliamentary elections.

Attorney General Mohammed Ishaq Aloko denounced the election commission for prematurely releasing the results. He also sharply criticized the United Nations mission here for endorsing the returns.

Aloko suggested that his office might annul the results, or bring criminal charges against candidates who he believed had won seats by fraud.

United Nations and Afghan election officials say that under the Afghan Constitution, the final say on election decisions rests with the Independent Election Commission, which manages elections, and the Electoral Complaints Commission, which investigates reports of violations of election law.

There is no provision for the government to annul elections, and once Parliament convenes, which it is not expected to do before next week, members of Parliament might have immunity from prosecution.

A Western diplomat in Kabul expressed alarm at the attorney general's actions.

He said: "This is looking increasingly dangerous. Where is the presidential palace in all of this?

A statement issued by President Karzai's office on Thursday noted that final results had been issued, but did not express support for the election commission.

Instead the president called on losing candidates to avoid violence, and urged them "to submit complaints to judicial authorities."

The statement added that the president would act in accordance with the Afghan Constitution. (ANI)

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