6 Sep 2009

Fraud allegations mount in Afghan election

5:30 am on 6 September 2009

The BBC says it has uncovered new allegations of fraud in the Afghan presidential election.

In the results declared so far, President Hamid Karzai has a clear lead. But more than 600 claims of serious fraud are being investigated.

The BBC says its Persian television service has been told by a tribal leader in southern Afghanistan that there's no way 30,000 of his people voted for the president.

Bareez tribal leader Haji Mohammed Bareez said the ballot boxes from one district were "stuffed" with fraudulent votes in favour of Mr Karzai.

"Nobody participated in the polling from Shorabak district," Mr Bareez said. "No ballot box was brought here. They themselves filled the boxes with ballot papers."

He said his people favour Mr Karzai's rival, Abdullah Abdullah. The tribe wants a full investigation.

Mr Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who heads the Kandahar provincial council, called the claims "baseless" and said the opposition was making such claims because it had lost the election and was trying to undermine the electoral process.

The election was held on 20 August, but the final result is not yet due till 17 September. The turnout has been estimated at 40% to 50%.

To win without a runoff election, a candidate needs more than 50% of the vote. With ballots from three-fifths of the polling stations tallied, Mr Karzai officially has 47.3% to Mr Abdullah's 32.6%.