Warlords likely to win Afghanistan parliamentary election
* Early results suggest Mohammed Mohaqeq and Yunus Qanooni leading
* Electoral officials will complete results by October 4
KABUL: Two main rivals of President Hamid Karzai and a reputed warlord reviled by rights activists are likely to win seats in Afghanistan’s parliament, partial preliminary election results suggested on Tuesday.
With 9.2 percent of ballots counted from Kabul province, Karzai’s top challengers in last year’s presidential election - Mohammed Mohaqeq and Yunus Qanooni - had the most votes, according to results posted on the Web site of the UN-Afghan election board.
Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a powerful former guerrilla leader who Human Rights Watch says is implicated in rights abuses, was running fourth in the province, which includes the Afghan capital.
The results could change significantly as more votes are counted after the landmark Sept 18 polls, in which Afghans voted for a national assembly for the first time in more than three decades as well as provincial councils.
But candidates leading now have a good chance of winning seats in Kabul, which will have 32 representatives in the Wolesi Jirga, or lower house of parliament. Nine of those seats are reserved for women.
Mohaqeq, a former anti-Taliban militia commander from the Hazara ethnic minority, was first with 5,392 votes, according to the Joint Electoral Management Body. Mohaqeq was third in the October 2004 presidential election.
Qanooni, who finished second to US-backed Karzai last October and leads a coalition of parties opposed to the president, was second with 4,194 votes. Sayyaf had 1,269 votes.
Observers have said the presence on the ballot of warlords responsible for past bloodshed could have kept some Afghans away from the polls. Electoral officials have estimated turnout at about 55 percent, down from 70 percent in the presidential election.
The government and its Western backers hope the elections will help restore stability after decades of war, but there are fears that parliament could be split along the same ethnic and tribal lines that have traditionally riven the country.
Electoral officials hope to have complete provisional results from all 34 provinces by Oct 4 and certified results by Oct 22, following a complaint period. As of Tuesday, they had released partial provisional results from eight provinces. ap