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Afghan president denies major vote fraud

Afghan President Hamid Karzai denied on Thursday that major electoral fraud took place last month and urged foreign allies not to interfere over investigations into mounting allegations of vote rigging.

world Updated: Sep 17, 2009 18:43 IST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai denied on Thursday that major electoral fraud took place last month and urged foreign allies not to interfere over investigations into mounting allegations of vote rigging.

Afghans went to the polls on August 20 in only their second direct presidential election, but the vote has been overshadowed by massive claims of irregularities and threats of violence by Taliban rebels.

"Media has reported major fraud. It wasn't that big. If there was fraud, it was small -- it happens all over the world," Karzai told reporters a day after preliminary results gave him 54.6 per cent of the vote.

But hundreds of thousands of ballots are being recounted because of fears of electoral fraud, and EU monitors have branded a quarter of the ballots cast as "suspicious" --most of them for Karzai.

"If there is fraud, it has to be investigated, but investigated fairly and without prejudice," Karzai said.

"I hope our foreign friends respect the people of Afghanistan and let the IEC (Independent Election Commission) and the ECC (Electoral Complaints Commission) fulfil their work without interference."

The European Union Election Observation Mission to Afghanistan yesterday said that they had identified 1.5 million votes, which could be fraudulent, with 1.1 of those cast for Karzai.