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Afghanistan Investigating Sacked Electoral Officials

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani hugs his first vice president candidate Amrullah Saleh, after arriving to register as a candidate for the upcoming presidential election at Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kabul on January 20.

Afghan authorities say they have launched an investigation into allegations that two electoral commissions misused their authority during last year's general elections.

The country's Attorney General's Office announced the investigation late on February 12, after all 12 members of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) were sacked for allegedly abusing their authority.

The seven IEC officials and five IECC staff were also barred from leaving the country, the office said in a statement.

The electoral officials were heavily criticized following the October parliamentary polls, which were marred by inefficiencies including absent electoral staff and missing voting materials.

Final results for all 15 provinces are yet to be announced.

The moves also come ahead of the country’s presidential election set for July.

Earlier on February 12, the president’s office announced that all IEC and IECC commissioners had been dismissed following amendments to the election law signed by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Ghani’s chief adviser, Fazel Fazly, tweeted that the changed had been discussed and endorsed by “all presidential candidates, political parties, and election observer groups.”

Fazly also wrote on February 12 that the move was meant to “guarantee the transparency of our electoral system, ensure public confidence in our institutions, as well as achieve the necessary reforms based on the lessons learned from the recent parliamentary elections.”

On February 11, the IEC accused the Afghan government of meddling in the presidential election by changing the law.

Such a move ahead of the vote was "very dangerous for the future of our country and will create postelection discourses that can take the country toward chaos," a statement said.

The commissioners were appointed to their posts in November 2016 as part of the government’s efforts to ensure transparent and fair parliamentary elections.

With reporting by AP, dpa, and TOLOnews

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