Charge of vote fraud 'totally fabricated': Karzai

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday rejected as "totally fabricated" allegations that widespread irregularities marred as much as 30 percent of balloting in August's election.

"There were irregularities. There must have been also fraud committed, no doubt," he said in an interview with ABC television.

"But the election was good and fair and worthy of praise, not of scorn, which the election received from the international media."

Asked about UN reports that as much as 30 percent of the vote was tainted, Karzai replied: "That was totally fabricated."

"That wasn't true," he said, calling the charges a "politically instigated statement."

"The election, as I mentioned earlier, had difficulties. There were instances of fraud, no doubt. There were irregularities. But the nation as a whole, was good and free and democratic," he said.

The Afghan leader, who is leading his bid for reelection in preliminary results, added that the ongoing debate about the conduct of the vote "rather makes me angry."

"We must not turn an election of the Afghan people, a victory of the Afghan people, into a nightmare for the Afghan people," he told US television.

Karzai leads preliminary results, with around 55 percent of the disputed vote. He needs 50 percent plus one vote to be declared the winner.

His main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, has around 28 percent.

Afghanistan's electoral authorities are expected to announce their decision on fraud allegations within days, either with a declaration of who is to be the country's next president, or plans for a run-off between the two main candidates.

Karzai also said that he supported US General Stanley McChrystal's bid for more US troops in Afghanistan, but declined to say how many would be sufficient.

"I'm not a military expert," Karzai said. "What I'm concerned about is the protection of the Afghan people. What I'm concerned about is a successful implementation of our struggle against extremism and terrorism."

In a portion of the interview not aired but posted on ABC's website, Karzai said that Al-Qaeda was not in Afghanistan.

"Al-Qaeda was driven out of Afghanistan in 2001. They have no base in Afghanistan," Karzai said. "The war against terrorism is not in Afghan villages, is not in the Afghan countryside.

"We must all join hands, Pakistan and Afghanistan and our allies, to wage a more effective campaign against them politically and, where it is required, militarily," Karzai said.

source AFP

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