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World – Karzai rival concerned with Afghan vote recount

Maria Golovnina
KABUL (Reuters) – Recounting only a sample of votes in Afghanistan’s disputed presidential vote is a confusing method that may fail to soothe concerns about the election’s credibility, the main opposition candidate said on Thursday.

Afghanistan has been in a state of political uncertainty since the Aug. 20 vote, with accusations of widespread fraud delaying the announcement of a final result.

The UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) said this week it would allow Afghan election officials to use only a sample of votes from polling stations with suspected irregularities in order to speed up the recounting process.

Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, President Hamid Karzai’s key rival in the election, said he had reservations about this method and would send observers to monitor the process, due to start next week.

“Our preference would have been for a (full) recount because sampling is very vague. It’s really confusing at this stage,” he told Reuters in an interview.

Preliminary results show Karzai winning in a single round but if enough of his ballots are thrown out he could still face a run-off against Abdullah.

Questions about Karzai and his post-election standing prompted U.S. President Barack Obama to delay a decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan, Obama administration officials have said, at a time when the Taliban insurgency is gaining strength.

The ECC, which says it has found “clear and convincing evidence of fraud”, has ordered a recount of votes from polling stations with suspiciously large numbers of votes or where one candidate won more than 95 percent.

Abdullah said his representatives would meet ECC officials this week to seek clarification of the sampling technique.
“I am not sure how it’s going to work because the type of fraud from one place to another is quite different,” he said.

“We will seek clarity about the methods and ways it will be conducted. If we are convinced that this is the right way to move ahead of course we will support the process.”

Abdullah said Afghanistan risked losing international support in its fight against insurgents if concerns about the election’s credibility were not resolved.

“Today’s situation where the United States is putting on hold its major decisions on Afghanistan is not a desirable situation. That can lead to further undesirable situations,” he said.

“Anything that leads to a situation where an illegitimate government is imposed on Afghanistan for another five years would put at risk the engagement of the international community.”

(For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: here)

(Editing by Golnar Motevalli and Jerry Norton)

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September 25, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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