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UN data shows huge discrepancies in Afghan voter turnout

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 7, 2009 - 16:02

New York: United Nations data on Afghan voter turnout kept confidential substantiates allegations of fraud with estimated number of voters in some provinces exceeding by 100,000 votes or more.

A spreadsheet kept secret by UN chief envoy in Kabul, Kai Eide shows major discrepancies between actual voter turnout and the results, specially in Pushtun-dominated provinces where the incumbent President Hamid Karzai was shown winning by a runaway margin, Washington Post reported Wenesday.

The UN is under pressure to make public its data on the elections, particularly after the sacking of its deputy envoy Peter Galbraith, who alleged extensive voter fraud in
the August 20 elections, the paper said.

According to the spreadsheet obtained by the paper, in southern Helmand province -- where 134,804 votes were recorded, 112,873 of them for President Hamid Karzai -- the UN estimated that just 38,000 people voted, and possibly as few as 5,000.

Similarly, in Paktika province, where Afghanistan`s Independent Election Commission has reported that 212,405 valid votes were cast, including 193,541 for Karzai, the UN
estimated that only 35,000 voters turned out.

The Pushtun heartland of Kandahar, which recorded 252,866 votes, including 221,436 for Karzai, the UN estimated that only 100,000 people voted.

In an interview last week, Eide acknowledged withholding the data, saying that the information could not be verified and that he required a formal request in order to
share it.

He said he was confronted by a "confusing situation" in which "a lot of information was coming from sources that had their own agenda. We can`t just hand over a bunch of
information if we haven`t made a solid assessment of it."
Eide added that he "really feels offended" by allegations that he favoured Karzai, saying he had taken a balanced approach that enjoyed the "unanimous" support of the
international community.

The UN spreadsheet also records allegations of fraud by followers of Abdullah Abdullah, Karzai`s main competitor, but on a lesser scale.

In several provinces won by Abdullah, the UN estimated larger turnout than election officials recorded. In Balkh province, for example, the organisation estimated that 450,000 people voted, while the results showed 297,557 votes, 46 percent of them for Abdullah.

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, October 7, 2009 - 16:02
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