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UN Data Show Discrepancies In Afghan Vote: Report

Former UN diplomat Peter Galbraith has raised concerns about Afghan election fraud in recent days
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Confidential United Nations' data on Afghanistan's disputed presidential election show the official vote count in some provinces exceeded the number of voters by 100,000 or more, "The Washington Post" reported on October 7.

In southern Helmand Province, where 134,804 votes were recorded, the United Nations estimated that just 38,000, and possibly as few as 5,000 people voted in the August 20 election, the "Post" reported, citing a UN spreadsheet obtained by the newspaper.

The UN spreadsheet shows widespread discrepancies between turnout and results, particularly in the volatile southern and eastern provinces where President Hamid Karzai won with large margins, the newspaper said.

Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission reported that 212,405 valid votes were cast in Paktika Province, including 193,541 for Karzai. The United Nations estimated that only 35,000 voters turned out, according to "The Washington Post."

Diplomats in Kabul have previously referred to such discrepancies, but the UN data have not been publicly disclosed until now, the newspaper said.

The article said there were are also allegations of fraud by followers of Karzai's main competitor, Abdullah Abdullah, but on a lesser scale.

"The Post" said Dan McNorton, the UN spokesman in Kabul, said the spreadsheet should be read with caution.

"The information that you have is unsubstantiated raw data and should be treated as such," McNorton said.

Preliminary results showed Karzai with 54.6 percent of the vote, but the Electoral Complaints Commission has ordered a recount of 12 percent of ballot boxes after finding "clear and convincing evidence of fraud." Karzai would face former foreign minister Abdullah if an investigation lowered his share to below 50 percent.

In the past week, two UN political officers in Kabul have resigned because of a lack of confidence in the leadership of UN special envoy, Kai Eide, the Post said, citing UN officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The departures were triggered by the dismissal last week of American Peter Galbraith as Eide's deputy, the "Post" said.

Galbraith had raised concerns about election fraud.