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Amid allegations of fraud, Afghan are calling for a fair counting of the votes after preliminary results in Afghanistan's April 5 parliamentary elections indicated a likely runoff.

Listeners who called in to Radio Free Afghanistan's weekly live call-in show "On The Waves of Freedom" said that Afghan voters want the government and the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to respect their votes and complete the election process with transparency. The first round of elections have been blighted by accusations of fraud.

The commission has already disqualified some 3.4 percent of all votes counted and is investigating another 450 polling stations for possible fraudulent votes.

The IEC's preliminary results announced on April 26 show that the election process is heading for a runoff in June, as none of the eight candidates secured the required 50 percent plus one votes.

Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani appear to be in the lead with 45 and 32 percent votes respectively.

Despite signs of fraud, the April 5 vote has been hailed as historic because nearly 7 million out of a total of 12 million eligible voters defied Taliban threats to participate in the poll.

Shukria Barekzai, an outspoken female Afghan lawmaker, said the election reflected the true will of the Afghan people, which must be respected.

"The message to the international community is quite clear. All Afghans have a voice and will defend their votes,” she said. "The Afghan people have proved wrong the perception that democracy and Afghans are [incompatible]."

Hamidullah Farooqi, who works for Ghani's presidential campaign, called on the IEC to separate authentic votes from fraudulent ones with transparency.

"The real votes will play a significant role in delivering an elected democratic leadership to Afghanistan," he said.

But he cautioned that after decades of war, Afghan institutions necessary for insuring transparent elections are still weak.

"Based on our experience in previous elections, the presidential election will also be marred by fraud and flaws.”

Mohmmad Faheem Naimi, a spokesman for the Afghanistan Fair and Free Election Foundation, emphasized that the integrity of the process is key.

"With their overwhelming participation, Afghans showed that having an elected democratic leadership is in their interest," he said. "This election can be considered a referendum in which the Afghan people showed that they condemn violence and want a peaceful transition of political power in the country. We need to preserve their hopes and expectations."

Every Thursday millions of Afghans in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Tajikistan tune in to "On the Waves of Freedom." This weekly two-hour long radio call-in show is known for its analysis and political commentary, and is a flagship program of Radio Free Afghanistan, known locally as Radio Azadi.
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