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UN Secretary-General Fires Top American at Afghan Mission


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The United Nations secretary-general has fired the top U.S. official serving in the U.N. mission to Afghanistan, following reports of a dispute over how to handle election fraud allegations.

A statement released Wednesday said Ban Ki-moon has decided to recall Peter Galbraith from Afghanistan and end his appointment as the deputy special representative of the secretary-general. The statement said Mr. Ban made the decision "in the best interest of the mission." It did not elaborate.

In recent days U.N. officials have told reporters that Galbraith, who left Afghanistan several weeks ago, would not be returning because of tensions with Kai Eide, the top U.N. official in Afghanistan.

The two men reportedly differed over how to handle widespread reports of fraud in the August 20 presidential vote. Kai Eide reportedly preferred to operate behind the scenes, while Galbraith wanted a more forceful public response.

Galbraith left Kabul to return to the United States on September 13. At the time, U.N. officials downplayed his departure and said they expected him to return soon.

Afghan election officials are recounting a sample of the votes from the disputed election in an effort to resolve weeks of uncertainty about the outcome.

Preliminary election results show President Hamid Karzai winning with 54 percent of the vote. If enough ballots are invalidated, the incumbent could dip below the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a run-off with his main rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.

Analysts have worried that the continuing uncertainty surrounding the vote could further undermine the already weak Afghan government.

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