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U.N. envoy denies fraud accusations in Afghan election

KABUL — The U.N.'s top envoy in Afghanistan denied allegations that he did not do enough to prevent or investigate fraud in the country's presidential vote.

Kai Eide's former deputy, Peter Galbraith, was fired last week after a dispute with his boss over how to deal with fraud charges in the Aug. 20 balloting.

Galbraith, the top American official at the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, also accused Eide of thwarting efforts to do something about it.

"This is a distraction," Eide said of the allegations. "But I have done my utmost to focus on getting the election process forward."

Preliminary results issued last month show President Hamid Karzai winning with 54.6 percent of the vote, but fraud investigators could toss out tainted votes and put Karzai below the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff with his top challenger.

Ballot boxes are being examined this week by Afghan election officials and a U.N.-backed fraud panel that will decide how many ballots to throw out.

Pakistan's government defends U.S. aid bill

Pakistan's U.S.-backed government questioned Thursday why the powerful military publicly criticized a billion-dollar American aid bill.

The government of President Asif Ali Zardari has hailed the U.S. legislation, which would provide $1.5 billion a year over the next five years, tripling nonmilitary assistance to the country.

Farhatullah Babar, Zardari's chief spokesman, said previous U.S. aid packages negotiated under Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who led a military government for eight years beginning in 1999, contained similar clauses and the army never complained.

Top army officials raised "serious concern" Wednesday over the strings attached to the bill, bolstering opposition politicians who say the conditions would lead to U.S. meddling in Pakistan's affairs.

U.N. envoy denies fraud accusations in Afghan election 10/08/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 8, 2009 10:56pm]
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