Afghan official resigns over meddling

Oct. 13, 2009 at 11:46 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- A member of the U.N.-backed election watchdog in Afghanistan cited the meddling of foreign members on the panel as a factor in his decision to resign.

Mawlawi Mohammad Mustafa Barakzai, one of the only two Afghans on the U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission, said that the three foreigners on the panel -- Dutch, U.S. and Canadian officials -- were "making all decisions" without consulting the Afghans, London's Guardian newspaper reports.

The ECC announced he resigned Monday.

Afghans earned the praise of the international community for their ability to hold their first-ever autonomous elections Aug. 20. Allegations of fraud surfaced almost immediately, however.

Fraud allegations reached a highpoint following claims made by Peter Galbraith, former U.N. deputy special envoy to Afghanistan, that his boss, Kai Eide, downplayed a series of suspicious events during the vote preparation.

Eide in his latest rebuttal acknowledged "significant fraud" in the vote but challenged many of Galbraith's initial claims.

The level of fraud may determine if a runoff vote between incumbent President Hamid Karzai and his former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah is needed.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday described Karzai as "helpful" but said there would be a "new relationship" with Kabul and foreign governments if he returned for a second term.

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