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Last Updated: Monday, 21 May 2007, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Leading Afghan woman MP suspended
Malalai Joya, Afghan MP
Ms Joya won her seat in 2005 with a huge majority
An outspoken woman in the lower house of the Afghan parliament, Malalai Joya, has been suspended after comparing other MPs to animals.

Ms Joya said in a television interview that parliament was worse than a stable because, she said, at least stable animals were useful.

Ms Joya is an outspoken critic of the influence that former Mujahideen fighters have in parliament.

She was elected to parliament in 2005, campaigning for women's rights.

Donkey comment

Ms Joya's made her controversial remarks about parliament to the private Tolo television channel.

Afghan parliament
The parliamentary suspension will last to the end of the current session

"A stable is better, for there you have a donkey that carries a load and a cow that provides milk," she said.

"The parliament is worse than a stable."

A member of the upper house of parliament complained to her fellow MPs in the lower house about the remarks.

The lower house then voted by a clear majority on a show of hands to suspend her.

Correspondents say the suspension will last some months, until the end of the current parliamentary session.

Ms Joya is sometimes described as the most famous woman in Afghanistan.

She made her name as a women's rights activist and has been a ceaseless critic of the warlords in parliament.

The warlords defeated the Soviet invasion of the 1980s but, in many cases, became leading participants in the destruction of the civil war that erupted in the 1990s.

Some have also been implicated in human rights abuses.

Secret classes

Born in the remote south-western province of Farah, Ms Joya spent most of her youth in refugee camps in Pakistan and Iran.

She returned to Afghanistan during the Taleban period and ran a school for women.

At the time all female education was banned, so the classes were conducted in secret.

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