South Asia

Afghanistan rules 1.3m parliamentary votes are invalid

An elderly woman shows off her inked finger after casting her vote in Kabul
Image caption Turnout was 40% amid widespread fraud and voter intimidation

Afghanistan's election authorities have cancelled 1.3 million votes in last month's parliamentary election because of fraud or other irregularities.

The number of void votes amounts to almost a quarter of nearly 5.6 million ballots cast in the 18 September poll.

More than 220 candidates are being investigated for fraud in the election, turnout for which was around 40%.

Final results are not expected before the end of the month once poll investigators finish their work.

"Turnout is around 5,600,000, the valid vote is 4,265,347, and the invalid vote is around 1,300,000," Fazil Ahmad Manawi, head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), said on Wednesday.

Announcing the preliminary results, Mr Manawi said the IEC had identified 224 candidates as "suspicious" over allegations of possible fraud.

Meanwhile, the UN-backed Afghan Electoral Complaints Commission is investigating more than 4,000 formal complaints.

It was Afghanistan's second parliamentary election since the 2001 US-led invasion.

More than 2,500 candidates stood for 249 seats in the lower house of parliament, the Wolesi Jirga. Sixty-eight seats have been set aside for women.

The vote was seen as a key test a year after the Afghan presidential election was overshadowed when 1.5 million votes - again, around a quarter - were thrown out because of fraud, mostly in favour of Hamid Karzai.