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Sacked Afghan poll officials under probe, barred from leaving country

Wednesday - February 13, 2019 5:02 pm , Category : WORLD
Kabul, Feb 13 (IANS) The Afghanistan Attorney General's office on Wednesday began a probe against members of the Election Commission after they were sacked over complaints of misuse of authority during last year's parliamentary elections.
President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday sacked all 12 members of the Election Commission, hours after signing a new law that is expected to reform the electoral system.
The Attorney General's office barred these officials from leaving the country while investigations were on. "All 12 former members and chairmen of the IEC and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commissions (IECC) have been put under a travel ban," Jamshid Rasouli, spokesperson for the Attorney General's office, told Efe news.
The Attorney General's Office assured that it will independently and impartially deal with the cases and maintain full transparency and will keep people informed of the proceedings, Rasouli said.
Presidential Palace spokesperson Haroon Chakhansuri said in a statement, "with the approval of amendment to the electoral law, all of the electoral commissioners, including heads of the IEC and the IECC are automatically dismissed with immediate effect," .
Ghani has allowed parties and civil society groups one week to nominate new Election Commission members.
The clamour for reforms became shrill following chaotic parliamentary elections, which were marred by allegations of fraud and other irregularities. Many voting centres opened hours late or did not open at all during the polls that had been postponed by three years.
The full results of elections held in October are yet to be announced.
Earlier this week, Ghani said he hoped to introduce more reforms to the electoral system and commissions to pave the way for transparent and fair presidential elections, scheduled later this year.
The amendment and sacking of the Election Commission members have come amid demands to postpone the July elections and form an interim government -- one of the main demands made by the Taliban as part of its ongoing peace talks with the US.
Ghani, who is opposed to the US-Taliban talks, says only the Afghan government should negotiate with the Taliban on behalf of the country and wants the election to go ahead as planned.

--IANS soni/pcj

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