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Panel Invalidates Some Afghan Election Results

By VOA News
19 October 2009

The U.N.-backed commission investigating reports of fraud in Afghanistan's presidential election has ordered the country's Independent Election Commission (IEC) to invalidate results at 210 polling stations.

In a statement released Monday, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) says it "found clear and convincing evidence of fraud" at the polling sites.

The commission also ordered the IEC to invalidate what it called "a certain percentage" of the candidates' votes in six categories. It did not elaborate.

Preliminary results from the August 20 election indicated President Hamid Karzai led with 54 percent of the total. His main challenger, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, had 28 percent.

Outside observers have said as many as one out of every three ballots were suspicious. Most of the fraudulent ballots are believed to benefit Mr. Karzai.

The election standoff follows months of escalating violence in Afghanistan and a spike in foreign troop deaths.

U.S. officials said Sunday President Barack Obama will not decide whether to send more troops to Afghanistan until the election is settled and the Afghan government is ready to work effectively with the United States.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Sunday that military and defense advisers will continue discussing the Afghan war strategy with the president this week and next.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has warned that the United States could lose the war if more troops are not deployed. General Stanley McChrystal is said to be asking the president for as many as 40,000 additional troops.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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