KABUL - More than 50 former candidates and MPs have appealed the special election tribunal's verdict on the results of last year's Parliamentary election, a court official said. The Attorney General's Office invalidated some poll results after the election. The special election court was created by the Supreme Court and approved by President Hamid Karzai after protests by losing candidates who alleged widespread rigging in the Sept. 18 Parliamentary vote.
The tribunal is a panel of five judges tasked with investigating thousands of complaints about irregularities in the voting. Many members of Parliament maintain that the special election court is unconstitutional, and that the Independent Election Commission has the sole authority to investigate fraud and certify election results.
The special court found fraud in 33 out of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. The court declared that 62 of 249 sitting MPs in the lower house are not qualified to hold their seats, based on the results of a vote recount the court ordered under Article 22 of Afghan election law. Two secretaries of the Parliament and the former acting speaker were among those disqualified.
The tribunal also announced the names of the 62 new candidates who won the vote recount and asked the IEC to introduce them into Parliament.
Shams ur Rahman Shams, a Kabul Appeals Court official, told Pajhwok Afghan News that more than 50 former candidates and MPs had lodged an appeal against the special election tribunal's verdict after the Attorney General's Office referred the issue to the appellate court.
He did not give the exact number of those appealing. He said some are sitting MPs disqualified by the special court and some are former candidates whose electoral bids were previously certified by the IEC as unsuccessful.
In a statement issued two days ago, the Supreme Court asked those who wished to appeal the decision to do so within three days, otherwise the appeals court would ratify the special election court's decision.
Meanwhile, the Wolesi Jirga, or lower house of Parliament, and the IEC rejected the results announced by the special tribunal, saying that they would not appeal since the tribunal's decision was itself unconstitutional.
Mohammad Rafiq Shahir, an MP from western Herat province, said that he would lose his seat if the special court's decision was implemented. He called the special court illegal and said he would not appeal the verdict.
Abdul Qader Qalatwal, secretary of the Wolesi Jirga, who is also among the 62 MPs the special court disqualified, also told Pajhwok Afghan News that the special court's verdict was unconstitutional and that he would not appeal it.
Shahir and Qalatwal both said they did not know who had appealed the special court's verdict.