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Malalai Joya elected to Afghan Parliament

Originally published in:
BBC Profile: Malalai Joya
Malalai Joya, one of the prominent winners in Afghanistan's landmark parliamentary elections, is an outspoken critic of the country's warlords.

"I hope by being a member of parliament I will be able to serve my people, especially the women," Ms Joya told reporters.

"I will do my best to stop the warlords and criminals from building any laws that will jeopardise the rights of Afghan people, especially the women."

The 27-year-old women's literacy and health worker will take her seat in the 249-seat National Assembly, or Wolesi Jirga, representing the remote province of Farah.

The warlords are like snakes in the sleeves of the government

Ms Joya, daughter of a former medical student who was wounded fighting the Soviets, rose to prominence for denouncing warlords at a constitutional forum two years ago.

She received a number of death threats after interrupting the loya jirga (grand council) with her criticism of the mujahideen, fighters who fought against the Soviet Union and then among themselves.

Ms Joya told the constitutional convention the mujahideen were responsible for Afghanistan's civil war which only ended when the Taleban seized power in 1996.

Ms Joya continued to press her case against the former rulers of Afghanistan - last year she, together with a delegation of 50 tribal elders, persuaded President Hamid Karzai to dismiss a provincial governor who was a former Taleban commander.

She has survived at least four assassination attempts since her speech at the constitutional convention. According to reports, Ms Joya employs armed guards and travels incognito.

"I know that if not today, then probably tomorrow, I will be physically annihilated," Ms Joya told the BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

"But the voice of protest will continue, because it is the voice of the people of my country."