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Fraud Investigation Slowing Afghan Vote Count --> 16 October 2005 -- An official with the UN-Afghan Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) said today that investigations into allegations of fraud have slowed down the counting of the ballots in the 18 September parliamentary election.

Richard Atwood, JEMB chief of operations, told reporters in Kabul that some 680 ballot boxes, about 3 percent of the total, have been taken out of the counting process because of suspicions they were stuffed. He said the commission has dismissed "approximately 50" of its staff over the fraud allegations.

But Atwood said the fraud that occurred was not systematic or widespread across the country. He said it "does not affect the integrity of the election" and he ruled out a recount.

Almost a month after the 18 September elections, provisional results have been published in 20 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.