Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Thursday, 1 April 2010 16:34 UK

Afghan president Karzai accuses UN over election fraud

Hamid Karzai spoke of a ''massive fraud'' committed by ''foreigners''

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has accused foreign election observers of fraud during last year's disputed vote.

Fraud had been widespread, Mr Karzai conceded, but he blamed foreigners for it, saying the UN was its focal point.

Mr Karzai singled out Peter Galbraith, the then deputy head of the UN mission, who he said had organised the fraud.

He accused Mr Galbraith of feeding details to the international media in an attempt to blacken his name. Mr Galbraith called the claim incredible.

"There was fraud in the presidential and provincial election, with no doubt there was massive fraud," Mr Karzai said.

Lyse Doucet
Lyse Doucet
BBC News, Kabul

The president's tone was stern, angry, and carried a veiled warning to the international community about its involvement here. His foreign allies will reject his accusations, and raise questions about his motives and mindset. But they know it's a political reality they must deal with.

His closest aides say he is still bitter about last year's controversial presidential election. He believed then that key allies like the US and UK were determined to oust him - his suspicion hasn't completely gone away.

Efforts like Barack Obama's visit to Kabul help ease tension and underscore a realisation on both sides that this relationship must be repaired. Too much is at stake.

The president's sudden outburst may have been provoked by the Lower House of Parliament's rejection of his decree giving him the power to appoint all five members of the Electoral Complaints Commission - a move he said was necessary to let Afghanistan control this key process.

"This wasn't fraud by Afghans but the fraud of foreigners, the fraud of Galbraith, or [head of the EU's observers Philippe] Morillon, and the votes of the Afghan nation were in the control of an embassy."

Mr Galbraith, a former US diplomat, was dismissed last year after alleging that the UN was not doing enough to combat fraud in the election.

He told the BBC the charges against him were "absurd".

"At first I thought it was an April Fool's joke but I realised I don't have that kind of warm, personal relationship with President Karzai that he would do that," he said.

He told the BBC the suggestion that the UN had stolen votes served as a sharp reminder of the fraud that dogged the election.

Mr Karzai is currently locked in a power struggle with parliament over his attempt to appoint all the monitors in Afghanistan's election process.

He was not declared the clear winner in the first round of the 2009 presidential vote, but emerged as victor after the challenger in the second round stood down, following several months of argument.

Irregularities uncovered by the independent Electoral Complaints Commission included polling where the turnout was more than 100%, and others where votes were counted from places known to have been closed on election day.

Mr Karzai's comments come a day after the Afghan parliament rejected his attempt to have an all-Afghan body monitoring elections.

The BBC's David Loyn in Kabul says they show that the president will try to force this all the way through if he can, seeking to take control of the election process.

Our correspondent says it puts him on a collision course with Barack Obama, who has been putting pressure on the Afghan president to change his ways and crack down on corruption.

The UN in Kabul has not commented on Mr Karzai's claims.

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Philadelphia Inquirer Afghan leader blames the West for vote fraud - 24 hrs ago
Mail Online UK 'It's the foreigners' fault': 'Unhinged' Karzai lashes out at world powers over election fraud - 27 hrs ago
Sydney Morning Herald Karzai slammed after attack on 'foreigners' - 33 hrs ago
Philippine Daily Inquirer Karzai slams 'foreigners' over Afghan vote fraud - 36 hrs ago
Japan Today Afghan president blames U.N., international community for vote fraud - 37 hrs ago

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