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Suspect votes center of election dispute

Sept. 5, 2009 at 6:49 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- A senior Afghan official reportedly wants all ballots counted in the country's presidential election, even those considered suspect, authorities said.

Independent Election Commission chief Azizullah Ludin told staff to tally all ballot boxes, even those containing more votes than there were registered voters in the Aug. 20 election, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

The move could result in incumbent President Hamid Karzai receiving more than the 50 percent needed to avoid a run-off with rival Abdullah Abdullah, the Telegraph said.

Ludin, who was appointed by Karzai, wants the burden of investigating fraud shifted to the Electoral Complaints Commission, the Telegraph reported.

The commission has three foreigners on its panel of five and would be seen as meddling if it rejected large numbers of votes for Karzai, international observers told the Telegraph.

The head of Kandahar's Bareez tribe said nearly 30,000 votes were fraudulently cast for Karzai, an allegation Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, called "baseless," the BBC reported Saturday. Ahmed Wali Karzai heads the Kandahar provincial council.

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