Supporters of Afghan President Hamid Karzai appeared to have won a majority of seats in the country's landmark parliamentary elections, observers said Saturday, as final results were announced amid continued violence.
The polls were hailed as a success in the country's slow march toward democracy, although their legitimacy has been undermined by allegations of ballot-box stuffing that led to the dismissal of 50 election workers, as well as concern that some of the winners are former regional strongmen with violent pasts.
Nearly all winning candidates in the September elections ran as independents, making it hard to determine where power will lie in the 249-seat legislature. But diplomats and other analysts said it appeared that Karzai supporters had dominated.
"The government has the support of more than 50 percent in the parliament," said Ali Amiri, a political analyst. "There are some small opposition groups but nothing big enough to challenge Karzai."
In the latest violence, insurgents pulled a deputy provincial governor from his car and fatally shot him before killing a former district chief as he prayed in a mosque. Three policemen also were killed as the country's death toll from fighting neared 1,500 for the year, the deadliest since the Taliban's ouster in 2001.
The parliamentary polls were seen as the final formal step toward a representative government in Afghanistan after a quarter-century of war that left more than 1 million people dead. However, doubts remain about the fairness of the election. Results were scheduled to be released last month but were delayed repeatedly by inquiries into fraud.