Ashraf Ghani opens Afghan parliament six months after troubled elections

New MPs convene with winners for 33 seats in Kabul still to be declared

Members of the Afghan parliament attend the inauguration of the newly-elected parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan April 26, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
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Six months after Afghans voted for new representatives, President Ashraf Ghani finally inaugurated Afghanistan's new parliament on Friday – although dozens of seats remained empty amid claims of election fraud.

The October 20 parliamentary elections were marred by a string of deadly bombings and attacks on polling stations across the country. Election officials have been accused of incompetence and have struggled to process results.

Even now, results for 33 seats in central Kabul province have not been announced amid allegations of rigging, irregularities and technical difficulties. The parliament's lower house has a total of 249 seats.

"Today in the house of the nation, the majority of the new members of the parliament are educated, and from a younger generation who will protect women's rights and human rights," Mr Ghani said in his opening speech at the parliament.

He said the government had no role in the inaugural delay, blaming the "incompetency of former election commission members" who have since been replaced.

Mr Ghani's term as president was supposed to end on May 22 but has been extended for several months.

Presidential elections to find a replacement should have been held by now but have been delayed twice as election workers scramble to clear the backlog from the last poll and as the US and Taliban hold peace talks.

Mr Ghani is to preside next week over a large meeting of representatives from Afghanistan to discuss possible conditions for peace.