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October 12, 2009

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UN notes fraud in Afghan election

THE head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan acknowledged yesterday there was "widespread fraud" in the August presidential election but refused to give specifics or lay blame to avoid influencing the ongoing recount.
Kai Eide responded to allegations by his former deputy, Peter Galbraith, that the Norwegian diplomat had sought to cover up evidence of massive fraud allegedly committed on behalf of President Hamid Karzai during the August 20 poll.
Galbraith, the top-ranking American in the UN mission, was fired on September 30 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after the publicized dispute over how to deal with the fraud, which threatens to discredit both the Afghan government and the international strategy for combating the Taliban insurgency.
Eide said he could "only say that there was widespread fraud" and that "any specific figure at this time would be pure speculation" until the recount is complete. Eide said Galbraith's allegations against him "have affected the entire election process."
President Hamid Karzai called for the results to be announced as soon as possible.
Karzai said the "confusion" over the results had been "created by Western elements in our country."
Last week, Galbraith said he was sticking by his allegations. He accused the UN of failing to exercise its responsibility to oversee the Afghan elections, adding that "the flaw that took place in Afghanistan was preventable."
Eide said he decided to try to open a number of polling stations that Galbraith wanted closed because of security concerns. Many stations in insecure areas in the south returned results that have been deemed suspect.


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