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Afghan vote could drag on: complaints boss

Final results from Afghanistan’s presidential election are likely to be delayed as investigations into fraud allegations drag on, the head of the country’s Electoral Complaints Commission said on Wednesday.

world Updated: Sep 10, 2009 01:26 IST

Final results from Afghanistan’s presidential election are likely to be delayed as investigations into fraud allegations drag on, the head of the country’s Electoral Complaints Commission said on Wednesday.

As candidates and critics accuse President Hamid Karzai of rigging the vote to ensure he wins another five years in office, Grant Kippin said it was impossible to know the extent of fraud until inquiries were complete.

He said final results of the presidential election held August 20 were not likely to be announced on September 17, as originally planned, because electoral authorities were taking so long to tally the vote.

The final results could not be ratified until all complaints were investigated, he said.

“Until we know how many polling stations and ballot boxes are involved, and where they are, we cannot possibly predict how long it will take,” Kippen said.

Teams of observers and investigators would travel to all polling stations where suspicions of fraud existed, he said.

The ECC on Tuesday said it had found “clear and convincing evidence of fraud in a number of polling stations” and had ordered audits and ballot recounts where necessary.

It told the Independent Election Commission (IEC) what to look out for -- polling stations where the “overwhelming majority” of votes were for one candidate or where the number of votes exceeded registered voters.

Results being released gradually have swung decidedly in favour of Karzai, who has 54.1 per cent of the votes from almost 92 per cent of polling stations.

His nearest rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah -- who has accused Karzai of blatant vote-rigging -- has 28.3 per cent.

Preliminary results are due to be released on Saturday by the IEC but Kippen said the ECC had identified parameters for the IEC.

“I think first let’s see what these investigations lead to, then we can go from there,” he told AFP.

“But to say that these polling stations are fraudulent is misleading -- those are other people’s perceptions. We are looking at it on a case-by-case basis.”

The ECC has received around 2,300 complaints, 720 of which “are material to the election results,” he said.

The US State Department said on Tuesday it could take months to determine the election results but added the integrity of the outcome was paramount.