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UN body orders vote recounts

The UN-backed commission charged with investigating Afghanistan's presidential election said on Tuesday that it has found "clear and convincing evidence of fraud" in the results and ordered a re-count of ballots from questionable polling stations.

world Updated: Sep 09, 2009 01:20 IST
Heidi Vogi

Tainted polls

Widespread allegations of ballot-box stuffing and suspicious tallies are threatening the legitimacy of Afghanistan's polls

More than 720 major fraud charges have been lodged with the Electoral Complaints Commission

Stations showing 100 per cent turnout or with a presidential candidate receiving more than 95 per cent of the vote will need to be audited and recounted, the commission said.

The U.N.-backed commission charged with investigating Afghanistan's presidential election said on Tuesday that it has found "clear and convincing evidence of fraud" in the results and ordered a re-count of ballots from questionable polling stations.

The commission's announcement comes with results from nearly three-quarters of polling stations already released. Incumbent President Hamid Karzai stands just shy of the 50 per cent of the vote he needs to avoid a run-off election with his main challenger Abdullah Abdullah.

The commission's order to re-count some results adds to the uncertainty surrounding the vote. A credible election is seen as critical to the Western-backed efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and win public support for the fight against the Taliban insurgency.

The commission did not say how many polling stations would require re-counts, but it noted that it had so far identified some with questionable results in Ghazni, Paktika and Kandahar provinces, and that it is launching investigations in other provinces. Stations showing 100 per cent turnout or with a presidential candidate receiving more than 95 per cent of the vote will need to be audited and recounted, the commission said in a statement. Stations with fewer than 100 ballots will be exempt from the process.