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Afghan's presidential candidate calls for criminal enquiry

Accusing President Hamid Karzai of staging "state engineered fraud", his main challenger in Afghanistan's presidential elections Abdullah Abdullah has said that this amounted to worse than a crime.

world Updated: Sep 14, 2009 19:59 IST

Accusing President Hamid Karzai of staging "state engineered fraud", his main challenger in Afghanistan's presidential elections Abdullah Abdullah has said that this amounted to worse than a crime.

"The massive vote rigging in last month's elections is worse than a crime, it's treason," Abdullah told The Times.

"Karzai doesn't think about the country, he thinks only of himself. He has been caught red-handed," he said.

Abdullah said, "what's at stake is Afghanistan, the future of this country. The country will die because of this sort of thing. Fraud is the extension of this corruption which prevailed in this system."

Abdullah, a former foreign minister, is trailing Karzai in partial results published by the Independent Elections Commission, an organisation that he claims is under the control of the President's supporters.

A UN-backed elections watchdog ordered the IEC to begin a massive recount of votes last week, saying that it had unearthed "clear and convincing evidence of fraud".

Although Karzai narrowly passed the 50 per cent threshold that would allow him to avoid a run-off, the recount could push his support below the 50 per cent level and force the country to have a vote for a second time.

Abdullah admitted that although an investigation is required, there is at present no independent judiciary to take up the task. His allegations have been backed up by international election monitors, who cited numerous witness testimonies.