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Afghanistan Names New Elections Chief

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has appointed a new election commission chief, after the previous head resigned following reports of widespread fraud during the presidential vote.

A presidential spokesman, Waheed Omar, announced Saturday that the Independent Election Commission will be headed by Fazel Ahmed Manawi. The previous chairman, Azizullah Ludin, and another top election official resigned earlier this month.

The commission was criticized for its oversight of the presidential election. The vote was marred by irregularities that prompted a separate U.N.-backed commission to throw out a third of the votes cast for Mr. Karzai.

The Afghan president Saturday also named five new members to that commission. They include three Afghans and two foreigners. Mr. Karzai has claimed that foreign governments and the United Nations were behind the massive electoral fraud.

The remarks, and other anti-foreign statements, have caused the White House to reconsider a meeting with Mr. Karzai in Washington scheduled for next month. The Afghan leader has made a series of statements accusing foreign powers of meddling in Afghan affairs. But U.S. President Barack Obama recently reaffirmed his support for Mr. Karzai, saying he has the capacity to be a strong partner.

In violence Saturday, NATO says a roadside bomb explosion killed two foreign soldiers in southern Afghanistan. Their nationalities were not disclosed.

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