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Recounts at 10% of Afghan polling stations

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - 16:03

Kabul: Ballots at 10 percent of Afghanistan`s polling stations will be audited and recounted because of indications of fraud during controversial polls last month, the electoral complaints body said Tuesday.

The UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission last week ordered that ballots from polling stations with "clear and convincing evidence of fraud" be recounted, and its chairman said 2,500 such stations had been identified.

"About 2,500 plus polling stations are affected by the order and all provinces are affected," ECC chairman Grant Kippen told AFP.

"Those are the ones based on our order -- that`s what has been identified," he added.
Electoral authorities said more than 25,000 polling stations opened on August 20 for presidential and provincial council elections.

The polls have been marred by low turnout and allegations of widespread vote fraud, which have pushed back the scheduled announcement of Afghanistan`s new president by weeks, officials have said.

On September 8, the ECC said the Independent Election Commission (IEC) must identity polling stations with 100 percent turnout or where one presidential candidate received more than 95 percent of the vote.

The IEC has already quarantined 600 polling stations for investigation according to its own parameters, but it was not immediately clear if the 2,500 sites included those 600 polling stations.

With most of the votes tallied, President Hamid Karzai leads with 54.3 percent against his main rival Abdullah Abdullah`s 28.1 percent.

Nearly a month after the election, the IEC has only announced results from 95 percent of the preliminary count.

An IEC spokeswoman said Tuesday there was still no timescale for the announcement of the final tally.

The official naming of Afghanistan`s new president cannot take place until all vote-rigging complaints are investigated and resolved, raising fears of protracted political turmoil on top of a worsening Taliban insurgency.

"If you`re talking about the audit and the recount process, then the idea is to do it as quickly as possible, so hopefully weeks as opposed to months is what we are looking at," said Kippen.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - 16:03

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