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AFGHANISTAN

Afghan officials cancel 1.3 million parliamentary votes

Reuters

Afghan election authorities cancelled 1.3 million votes in last month's parliamentary election, nearly a quarter of the 5.6 million ballots cast, the country's top electoral officer said Wednesday.

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The number of cancelled votes represents more than 23 per cent of the number of ballots cast in the 18 September election.

Afghans voted in the country's second parliamentary election since the Taliban  were overthrown in 2001.

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

More than 2,500 candidates stood for 249 seats in the lower house of parliament, the Wolesi Jirga.

Manawi, announcing preliminary results, said the IEC had identified 224 candidates as "suspicious" because of allegations of possible fraud.

Final results are not expected until the end of this month but could be delayed as the Electoral Complaints Commission completes investigations of thousands of complaints, including those against the "suspicious" candidates.

The election followed last year's presidential vote which was marred by widespread fraud and the invalidation of around 1.5 million votes - also around one quarter of the total - most in favour of the incumbent.

The elections are part of a process of developing the country's political system, which is rife with

corruption and cronyism

.

"These elections will do little to alter Afghanistan's system of patronage politics, and will certainly not alter the balance of power," the official said.

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