UN Official Asks for Patience, Calm on Afghan Vote Outcome



A day ahead of the expected release of partial results from last Thursday's election in Afghanistan, the top United Nations official is asking for patience from the electorate, the candidates and the media. Our correspondent reports from Kabul.

U.N. special envoy Kai Eide has met with members of Afghanistan's Election Complaints Commission in the capital. The watchdog group, partly appointed by the U.N., is overseeing the complaints of voter fraud and other irregularities reported since last week's balloting.

Under Afghan law, official results cannot be announced until serious complaints are adjudicated.

Eide, speaking to reporters, is calling for patience to allow the process to be completed, saying he is not surprised by the slow pace of the vote count.

"I do appeal to the candidates and to their campaigns and also to the voters to demonstrate the patience and calm that is required for the ECC [Election Complaints Commission] to carry out its work in order to make sure that when we look back at the entire election process that we can say that it had the credibility that is required," said Kai Eide.

Both the campaigns of incumbent President Hamid Karzai and his top challenger, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, accuse the other of illegal campaign activities and tampering with the voting process.

U.N. envoy Eide acknowledges there have been problems.

"There is no doubt that there have been irregularities during the polling day," he said. "There have been irregularities before the polling day, as you know."

Election officials still not have released any figures on voter turnout. A low turnout could also damage the credibility of the presidential election - Afghanistan's first in five years.

The Afghan Independent Election Commission says tallies from 2,400 polling stations in several provinces will be released Tuesday. Complete nationwide preliminary results may not come for about another 10 days.

There will be a run-off election in the presidential contest if no candidate captures more than 50 percent of the vote.

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