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Page last updated at 10:48 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 11:48 UK

Afghan quits election fraud panel

Fraud allegations have led to an audit of some ballot boxes
Afghan election official carries ballot boxes

An Afghan member of a UN-backed panel investigating fraud in the presidential election has resigned saying foreigners are "interfering" in its work.

Mustafa Barakzai was one of two Afghans on the five-member Electoral Complaints Commission. He said Afghans had little input in the body's key decisions.

The commission is due to rule this week on the outcome of its investigations.

Its findings could overturn the result as it currently stands, forcing the incumbent Hamid Karzai into a run-off.

The election has been mired in controversy since it was held in August, with accusations that fraud was committed on a huge scale.

Mr Barakzai said the three foreigners on the panel - one Canadian, one Dutch and one American - were "making all decisions on their own".

A UN spokesman said the resignation was "regrettable" but that the work of the commission must continue.

'Widespread fraud'

The resignation follows a row between the two most senior UN officials in Afghanistan over how to deal with the fallout from the election.

On Sunday, Kai Eide, the head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, acknowledged there had been "widespread fraud", but said any effect on the result of the vote remained unclear.

His deputy, Peter Galbraith, was removed from his post earlier this month, after alleging that Mr Eide had covered up the extent of the fraud to maintain good relations with Hamid Karzai. Mr Eide denies the charge.

A recount of a sample of suspect ballots is almost complete, the UN said on Sunday. About 10% of votes cast in August are being audited.

Mr Karzai leads preliminary results with about 55% of the vote, considerably ahead of his nearest rival Abdullah Abdullah, who has 28%.

There would be a second round run-off if neither secures 50% of ballots cast.



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