KABUL (REUTERS) – Afghanistan’s Parliament descended into chaos on Sunday (May 19) when lawmakers brawled over the appointment of a new Speaker, an inauspicious start to the assembly, which was sitting for the first time since chaotic elections last year.
Results of last October’s parliamentary election were only finalised earlier this month after repeated technical and organisational problems and widespread accusations of fraud.
Sunday’s incident underscored the turmoil in Afghan politics ahead of presidential elections that are taking place in the shadow of talks between US diplomats and the Taleban about a possible settlement of an 18-year conflict.
“We will never accept the new Speaker and there must be a re-election with new candidates,” said Ms Mariam Sama, a lawmaker from Kabul.
Video footage widely shared on social media showed a brawl among lawmakers, with members of Parliament seen blocking the Speaker’s seat and calling for a re-run of the vote.
“He has secured a majority of the votes and one vote is not an issues, so he is our new chairman,” said Mr Nahid Farid, a lawmaker from Herat who supports Mr Rahmani.
The repeatedly delayed parliamentary vote on Oct 20 was marred by widespread allegations of fraud, vote rigging, inaccurate voter lists and technical problems with biometric verification equipment.