| ||IEC secretary announces resignation|
By S. Mudassir Ali Shah
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KABUL - Independent Election Commission (IEC) Secretary Ziaul Haq Amarkhel on Monday announced his resignation in the wake of allegations regarding his involvement in fraud in the June 14 runoff vote.
At a news conference in Kabul, the secretary said he was standing down to prevent the integrity of the electoral process. His resignation lends credence to Dr. Abdullah’s claim of industrial-scale rigging in the polls.
At a late-night news conference a week back, Abdullah had asked for Amarkhel’s suspension for dispatching electoral materials to polling sites in the 21st district and Sarobi before being stopped by police.
Previously, Amarkhel had refuted the accusation, saying the electoral materials were being taken to polling centers that had run out of ballot papers. He had called the action disrespect to the commission’s independence and interference in its affairs.
At today’s media conference, he took great pains spurning as “concocted” the tape released by Abdullah’s camp. In the tape, Amarkhel is heard as telling people to vote for Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.
He thanked President Hamid Karzai and IEC Chairman Yousaf Nuristani for reposing confidence in him. He also commended the people for voting despite challenges and threats.
The outgoing secretary repeatedly said he was quitting of his volition, without being pressured by anyone. The decision was in the supreme national interest, he reiterated, urging all sides to respect people’s mandate.
Also speaking on the occasion, Nuristani said there was no link between the alleged tape and the secretary’s resignation. He also acknowledged Amarkhel’s contribution and hoping the move would help end controversy about the results.