x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

New Afghan parliament 'maybe within a week' say officials

With 238 places decided in the 249-seat lower house after the long-delayed announcement of results from the general election in September, only one province remains undecided.

A new Afghan parliament could be formed within a week after most of the long-delayed results from elections held on September 18 were released today, an election official said.

With 238 places decided in the 249-seat lower house, Independent Election Commission spokeswoman Marzia Siddiqi Salim, asked when a new parliament would be formed, said: "It might be in a week."

However, final election results from a southern province where Afghanistan's biggest ethnic group apparently suffered a crushing defeat have been delayed.

The election commission ruled that nearly a quarter of nationwide votes and early winners should be disqualified because of fraud.

In addition, results for Ghazni province, where Pashtuns, Afghanistan's biggest ethnic group, failed to win any seats would be announced at a later date, because of what the IEC chairman called "technical problems".

Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, himself a Pashtun, has said he would be in favour of a re-run in Ghazni "for the sake of our national unity".

Fazil Ahmad Manawi told reporters in Kabul: "We announced final results for 34 constituencies. Only one constituency, which is Ghazni, is pending and that is due to technical problems,"

He ruled out re-elections in the 34 constituencies, but did not specify whether that also applied to Ghazni.

According to preliminary results, Hazaras won all 11 parliamentary seats in the province, a flashpoint in the nine-year Taliban insurgency against the Western-backed Afghan government.

Pashtun leaders have said Taliban harassment prevented them from voting.