Page last updated at 22:15 GMT, Thursday, 1 April 2010 23:15 UK

UN envoy Peter Galbraith denies Afghan poll fraud

Peter Galbraith said the claims by Hamid Karzai were ''extraordinary''

A former UN envoy has dismissed claims by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that foreign observers were responsible for fraud in last year's disputed vote.

Mr Karzai had accused Peter Galbraith and the EU mission head Gen Phillippe Morillon of being involved in a plot to put a puppet government in power.

Mr Galbraith blamed the president and some electoral officials for the fraud.

More than a million votes were rejected after a recount last year, mostly for President Karzai.

'Absurd' claims

Mr Karzai said there was "no doubt there was massive fraud" in the Afghan presidential and provincial elections.

1979-1993: Senior adviser to US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
1993-1998: First US Ambassador to Croatia, and co-author of Erdut Agreement that ended the war in Croatia
2000-2001: Director at the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor
2003: Resigns from the US government to write The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End
2009: UN Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan

He singled out Mr Galbraith - the then deputy head of the UN mission in Afghanistan - of feeding details to the international media in an attempt to blacken his name.

"This wasn't fraud by Afghans but the fraud of foreigners, the fraud of Galbraith, or [head of the EU's observers Philippe] Morillon, and the votes of the Afghan nation were in the control of an embassy."

Mr Galbraith said the suggestion that the UN would organise electoral fraud was "absurd".

"At first I thought it was an April Fool's joke but I realised I don't have that kind of warm, personal relationship with President Karzai that he would do that," he said.

He told the BBC the suggestion that the UN had stolen votes served as a sharp reminder of the fraud that dogged the election.

Mr Galbraith, a former US diplomat, was dismissed last year after alleging that the UN was not doing enough to combat fraud in the election.

Power struggle

Mr Karzai is currently locked in a power struggle with parliament over his attempt to appoint all the monitors in Afghanistan's election process.

Hamid Karzai spoke of a ''massive fraud'' committed by ''foreigners''

He was not declared the clear winner in the first round of the 2009 presidential vote, but emerged as victor after the challenger in the second round stood down, following several months of argument.

Irregularities uncovered by the independent Electoral Complaints Commission included polling where the turnout was more than 100%, and others where votes were counted from places known to have been closed on election day.

Mr Karzai's comments come a day after the Afghan parliament rejected his attempt to have an all-Afghan body monitoring elections.

The BBC's David Loyn in Kabul says they show that the president will try to force this all the way through if he can, seeking to take control of the election process.

Our correspondent says it puts him on a collision course with US President Barack Obama, who has been putting pressure on the Afghan president to change his ways and crack down on corruption.

The UN in Kabul has not commented on Mr Karzai's claims.

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