KABUL: Six months after Afghans voted for new lawmakers, President Ashraf Ghani finally inaugurated Afghanistan’s new parliament on Friday – though dozens of seats remained empty amid ongoing claims of election fraud.
The October 20 parliamentary elections were marred by a string of deadly bombings and attacks on polling stations across the country, and election officials have been accused of incompetence and have struggled to process results.
Even now, results for 33 seats in central Kabul province have not been announced amid allegations of rigging, irregularities, and technical difficulties. The parliament’s lower house has a total of 249 spots.
“Today in the house of the nation, the majority of the new members of the parliament are educated, and from a younger generation who will protect women’s rights and human rights,” Ghani said in his opening speech at the parliament.
He said the government had no role in the inaugural delay, blaming the “incompetency of former election commission members” who have since been replaced.
Ghani’s term as president was supposed to end May 22 but has been extended for several months.
Presidential elections to find a replacement should have been held by now, but have been twice delayed as election workers scramble to fill the backlog from the last poll and amid ongoing US-Taliban peace talks.
Ghani is set to preside next week over a large meeting of representatives from Afghanistan to discuss possible conditions for peace.