- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 13, 2005

KABUL, Afghanistan — The final results of legislative elections show several former commanders of military factions, three ex-Taliban officials, female activists and several ex-communists winning seats in the new parliament.

The results of the Sept. 18 vote for the 249-seat lower house, or Wolesi Jirga, were finally released this weekend, after being delayed by a slow count and accusations of vote fraud.

All 5,800 candidates ran as independents. President Hamid Karzai has no political party and stayed out of the fray, although several supporters, including two relatives, won parliamentary seats.

Yunus Qanooni, leader of an alliance of parties opposed to the U.S.-backed president, also won a seat. The former interior and education minister finished a distant second to Mr. Karzai in the October 2004 presidential election.

Supporter Haji Baryali said Mr. Qanooni and his allies had hoped to win up to half the seats in parliament, but it was not clear whether they had achieved that goal.

Mr. Qanooni is an ethnic Tajik and a senior leader of an alliance that helped U.S.-led forces topple the Taliban in 2001. Mr. Karzai is a Pashtun, the largest ethnic group and the one from which most Taliban were drawn.

Among others who won seats in the Wolesi Jirga were former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, a conservative ethnic-Tajik cleric from the north who is seen as a Karzai supporter and, according to associates, wants to become chairman of the parliament.

“I see the parliament as an alliance of Karzai with the fundamentalists,” said Abdul Hamid Mubariz, a politician and a former deputy information minister.

“Karzai has made the alliance because of his weakness, so it would not be a headache for him. Freedom of expression and democracy will suffer.”

Several old armed faction commanders, labeled warlords and accused of war crimes by rights groups, also won seats.

Haji Mohammed Mohaqiq, from the Shi’ite Muslim Hazara ethnic minority, won the most votes in Kabul province.

Mr. Mohaqiq’s faction was involved in years of civil war in the 1990s. He served as a deputy to Mr. Karzai and planning minister, but is now part of Mr. Qanooni’s bloc.

Three prominent former Taliban members won seats in parliament — ex-commander Haji Mullah Abdul Salaam Rocketi, ex-provincial governor Mawlavi Islamuddin Mohammadi and a senior former security official, Hanif Shah Al-Hussein.

Sayed Mohammed Gulabzoi, interior minister in a Soviet-backed government during the 1980s, was among several ex-communist winners.

Women obtained all 68 seats reserved for them, but five provincial council seats in the conservative south and east were left vacant because too few candidates had registered.

Among the victorious women was Malalai Joya, who rose to prominence when she stood up and denounced old faction commanders as criminals during a constitutional conference in 2003.

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