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Afghan body to recount ballots from 10 percent polling centres


Kabul : Election authorities said Tuesday they would recount ballots from around 10 percent of the polling stations in last month’s presidential vote due to indications of fraud.

The UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) ordered the recount after receiving more than 2,000 complaints of fraud, with hundreds of them said to be serious enough to affect the outcome.

“The ECC decided that we should recount ballots from 2,516 polling stations and we are waiting for their representatives to start the recount,” deputy chief electoral officer Zekria Barekzai told DPA.

Afghans voted at more than 26,000 polling stations nationwide Aug 20.

The recount could drag President Hamid Karzai’s share of the vote to below 50 percent and force a run-off with his top challenger Abdullah Abdullah.

According to the latest preliminary results with the votes from 92 percent of the polling stations counted, Karzai received 54.3 percent of the vote, while Abdullah, a former foreign minister, received 28.1 percent.

The second election in Afghanistan’s history was marred by massive allegations of fraud.

ECC chief Grant Kippen said Monday that the commission ordered election officials to audit and recount ballots from polling sites where there was a turnout of 100 percent, or where one candidate received more than 95 percent of valid votes.

He said the huge volume of the fraud complaints that need to be investigated would delay by several weeks the final results, which were originally scheduled to be announced Sep 17.

But Barekzai said the recount would not affect the announcement of preliminary results, now expected Wednesday afternoon.