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Afghan parliament opening delayed

Afghanistan has announced a one-month delay in the opening of the country’s new parliament to allow the investigation of irregularities in the September general polls.

President Hamid Karzai’s office announced the decision on Wednesday after a judge demanded more time to rule on alleged irregularities clouding the general election, AFP reported.

“The president’s office, respecting the demand by the court, delays the inauguration of the parliament until February 22 of the current year,” Karzai’s aides said in a statement.

Wolesi Jirga or the House of the People’s inauguration, expected to take place on January 23, will now be postponed until February 22.

The country’s September parliamentary elections were struck by fraud, hurting the Pashtuns, who happen to be Afghanistan’s largest single ethnic group and the president’s traditional power base.

Following the election, electoral authorities announced the disqualification of 24 early winners, among them some of Karzai’s allies.

Nearly a quarter of about five million votes were also thrown away.

The newly announced delay is to allow a special tribunal of the Supreme Court to decide the status of some disputed winners.

“We are optimistic that a parliament representative of the will of the people will emerge, which will reinstall the confidence of people in the election and democracy,” stated Daud Sultanzaoy, a losing candidate from southeastern Ghazni province.

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