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Afghan president defends vote, admits some bias

AFGHANISTAN'S president says last month's election had integrity, but that some government officials "were partial toward me."

The statement appeared to be President Hamid Karzai's first public acknowledgment of fraud by his supporters during the Aug. 20 vote and its aftermath. He spoke to reporters today on the day after full preliminary results showed him with a comfortable lead over challenger Abdullah Abdullah.

Widespread reports of fraud still need to be investigated before results are finalized, and observers have said enough votes are questionable that Karzai could still be forced into a runoff with Abdullah.

Karzai held back from declaring victory today, talking only of plans he will implement "if I am declared president."


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