January 14, 2019 / 5:49 PM / 5 months ago

Preliminary results of fraud-tainted Kabul vote announced

FILE PHOTO: An Afghan election worker counts ballot papers during parliamentary elections at a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan October 21, 2018.REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail/File Photo

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan election authorities announced preliminary results on Monday for the delayed parliamentary vote for Kabul after the ballot was called for a recount following fraud complaints.

The announcement ended months of political uncertainty over the ballot which was marred by chaotic organization, allegations of massive fraud and attacks by insurgents that caused the vote to continue for a second day.

It also came as diplomatic efforts between U.S. officials and Taliban representatives to find a peace settlement to end the war in Afghanistan, which has dragged on for more than 17 years, gained momentum.

Gula Jan Abdul Bade Sayad, chairman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), apologized on Monday for delaying the announcement of the preliminary results and said more time was required to go through the ballot.

The final results are expected to be announced in the coming weeks after a review by the electoral complaints commission.

“Widespread irregularities during the election day, dealing with incomplete voter lists and many other reasons were unfortunately the cause of delay and it required more time to deal with it,” Sayad told a news conference in Kabul.

The vote, held on Oct. 20 after months of wrangling and delay, was marred by accusations of voter fraud, ballot-box stuffing, technical problems with biometric voter verification equipment and inaccurate voter lists.

The Presidential election, originally scheduled for April, was put back until July this year and many Afghans believe the vote may be canceled if a peace deal is reached with the Taliban.

Reporting by Hamid Shalizi, editing by Ed Osmond

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