KABUL, Afghanistan — A group of lawmakers, many of them women, blocked the Afghan Parliament’s newly appointed speaker from taking his seat on Sunday, and security forces were dispatched after a scuffle broke out.
Members of Parliament on Saturday picked Mir Rahman Rahmani, a businessman and former military officer, for the role of speaker despite his just failing to win the number of votes needed to take the job.
The turmoil came just a few days after the newly elected Parliament started its first session on Thursday. The election in October was delayed by more than three years and was plagued by vote-rigging and bribery. The results, finally announced last month, were supposed to have been issued within weeks of the election. But it was only on Tuesday that representatives were confirmed for the last open parliamentary seats for Kabul, the capital.
The clash over Mr. Rahmani’s legitimacy as speaker was televised and quickly spread to social media. Parliamentary members cursed at one another from across the main hall of the recently completed parliamentary building, a multimillion-dollar structure donated by India. Mr. Rahmani’s rival, Kamal Naser Osuli, sat in the speaker’s chair, saying that he was the rightful holder of the position. One lawmaker, Zal Mohammad Zalmay, rushed at Mr. Osuli while wielding the speaker’s gavel.
But those who voiced the loudest opposition were more than a dozen women who formed a barricade around the speaker’s chair, chanting that they wanted an interim candidate.
“I am not supporting Osuli or Rahmani,” Maryam Sama, a member of Parliament from Kabul, wrote on her Facebook page. “I protested to show that I am not in the Parliament to get rich or to support an ethnic group. With respect to both these colleagues, the Afghan Parliament could have a better speaker.”
Mariam Sulaimankhail, a lawmaker who represents the Kochi tribal community, posted on her Twitter account: “It’s not about Osuli nor Rahmani! It’s about the law, I will always be on the law’s side.”
The debacle is largely the result of three members of Parliament’s not submitting votes despite being present on Saturday. Mr. Rahman received 123 votes; his rival, Mr. Osuli, 55. Mr. Rahmani was announced as the winner despite not having the required 124 votes from the 247 members attending. The temporary speaker, Atta Mohammad Dehqanpor, said only 244 votes had been submitted.
In response to the impasse, 15 members of Parliament were picked as a committee to try to resolve the problem and potentially sway the lawmakers who had rejected Mr. Rahmani as speaker, according to Khodadad Erfani, a fellow lawmaker.
“Rahmani got 50 percent, plus one, of all votes, and he is the speaker, but the committee will resolve the dispute based on principles suggested by the law,” Mr. Erfani said.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s attorney general referred 191 election fraud-related cases on Sunday to the country’s primary courts, including those of a dozen officials fired in February for tampering in October’s parliamentary elections.
The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, has pushed for a strong central government in Kabul to negotiate with the Taliban. The militant group has been involved in peace discussions with the United States for months, but the Taliban leadership has refused to speak to the Afghan government.
The coming Afghan presidential election, scheduled for July, has been pushed back to September because of problems with the voting process.