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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Afghan initial poll winners named
Malalai Joya
Malalai Joya - one of the first winners named
Afghan poll officials have announced initial results from September's parliamentary elections and excluded 300 polling stations for fraud.

Ballots had been excluded from Kabul's Pagham district and Paktika province because of fraud such as the stuffing of ballot boxes, an official said.

However, officials said there was "no systematic fraud" and no evidence against any candidate so far.

Women's rights activist Malalai Joya was one of the first winners named.

She rose to prominence for denouncing warlords at a constitutional forum two years ago.

Ms Joya will take her place in the 249-seat National Assembly, or Wolesi Jirga, following initial results in the western provinces of Nimroz and Farah.

'Localised fraud'

Full results from the other 32 provinces are expected by the end of October. A quarter of the seats are reserved for women.

QUICK GUIDE

The country's Joint Electoral Management Body said on Thursday fraud had been detected at 299 polling stations so far - but that was only about one percent of the total nationwide.

Chief election officer, Peter Erben, told reporters there had been "serious localised fraud" in the elections.

This included votes from 62 polling stations in Pagham, a key support base of Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a warlord and an ally of President Hamid Karzai.

But Mr Erben said the authorities had not found firm evidence to disqualify any candidate from the contest so far.

"We remain confident that the result of the vote will reflect the will of the voters and that this election will lead to a legislature that will represent Afghanistan's people," he said.

Violence

Turn-out in the vote for September's landmark parliament and provincial assemblies was about 50% - over 20 points down on the 2004 presidential poll.

VOTE FACTS
2,800 parliamentary candidates
3,000 candidates for 34 provincial councils
249 seats in lower house or Wolesi Jirga
About 25% of seats reserved for women
160,000 vote officials, 26,000 polling stations
Final result due 22 October

A number of warlords look set to win seats in parliament.

One controversial candidate is Hazrat Ali, who has been linked to militia groups. He is the leading candidate in the eastern province of Nangahar.

The run up to the elections was plagued with violence, most of which was blamed on the Taleban who denounced the process.

More than 1,000 people, including seven election candidates, were killed in the six months before the vote, the worst bloodshed since US-led forces ousted the Taleban in 2001.

However, officials said the peaceful conduct of the polls was a victory over the militants.

The September elections were the final stage in an internationally agreed plan for the establishment of democracy in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taleban.


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