People read a newspaper reporting Pakistan’s election results in Karachi, Pakistan. (Photographer: Asim Hafeez/Bloomberg)

Imran Khan's Rivals Claim Pakistan Vote Rigged, Reject Results

(Bloomberg) -- Imran Khan’s election victory was called into doubt by eight Pakistani political parties late Friday after they rejected the results amid claims of rigging following a campaign tarred by accusations of military manipulation.

A group of seven political parties rebuffed the official tally and demanded fresh polls after Khan’s party -- the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Movement for Justice -- won the most seats in this week’s ballot, but came short of a majority.

Separately the Pakistan Peoples Party, which came third, said the outcome of the vote was void. “There was no need to make this civilian transfer of power so controversial,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of murdered former premier Benazir Bhutto and PPP co-chairman, told reporters in Karachi late Friday. “We demand that the chief election commissioner resigns as he has been unable to conduct free and fair elections.”

Earlier on Friday, Michael Gahler, the chief observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission in Pakistan, said the election was negatively affected by the political environment amid media restrictions and a problematic vote count. There were systemic efforts to undermine Khan’s main rival party and the conduct of the election was not as good as the previous one in 2013, he said.

The U.S. and U.K. issued statements that voiced concern over terrorist-linked parties that ran for office and the pressure Pakistani media faced in the run-up to the vote.

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