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Karzai Blames Foreigners for Afghan Vote Fraud


Afghan President Hamid Karzai has accused the United Nations and the international community of interfering with the outcome of last year's presidential elections and attempting to weaken his authority.

He told a gathering of election commission workers in Kabul Thursday, foreigners are to blame for widespread fraud during the August 20 vote, including U.N. officials, the European Union, and several embassies in Kabul.

The Afghan leader singled out former U.N. deputy chief Peter Galbraith, who was fired after a dispute with his boss on how to deal with fraud allegations, as well as the head of the EU election observation mission, Philippe Mirollon.

The United States brushed aside Mr. Karzai's accusations. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said it is important that Mr. Karzai shows his own people that he can govern effectively, and takes "measurable" steps against corruption.

In New York, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said the world body has a record of what was said and done in response to allegations of fraud in the Afghan elections and that the U.N. stands by its record.

President Karzai was forced into a runoff election when a U.N.-backed commission threw out nearly a third of his ballots due to irregularities. A second vote never took place, because Mr. Karzai's rival dropped out of the race.

On Wednesday, Afghan lawmakers rejected President Karzai's bid to appoint three of the five members of the country's Electoral Complaint Commission. The commission played a key role in rejecting fraudulent ballots that benefited Mr. Karzai.

In violence Thursday, a member of the NATO-led international force was killed by a blast in southern Afghanistan.

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

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