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Karzai Accuses U.S. of Trying to Undermine Him


Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he believes the United States is denouncing his family and political allies in an effort to undermine his position.

In an interview with the French daily Le Figaro published Monday, Mr. Karzai said the United States is using "underhanded" tactics to undermine him.

He said he believed that recent U.S. criticism of his running mate, Mohammad Qasim Fahim, was actually aimed at him. He also said accusations that his brother is corrupt are unfounded.

Mr. Karzai also said there might have been incidents of fraud during last month's presidential election. But he dismissed them as "inevitable" in a newly created democracy.

Earlier Monday, a report in a major U.S. newspaper outlined allegations of massive vote fraud committed to help Afghan President Hamid Karzai win re-election.

The New York Times quoted unnamed Afghan and Western officials as saying Mr. Karzai's supporters created as many as 800 fake polling stations that produced hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes.

The newspaper says the votes counted for Mr. Karzai at some polling stations may be 10 times higher than the number of people who actually voted.

Meanwhile, the Karzai campaign has accused other candidates of manipulating votes.

Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission says votes from nearly 500 polling stations across the country have been invalidated due to allegations of widespread fraud.

The commission also says it will have to clear 650 serious complaints before the results of the voting can be certified this month.

Partial election results show Mr. Karzai has 48.6 percent of the vote, while his main challenger Abdullah Abdullah has 31.7 percent. The count is based on returns from about 75 percent of the country's polling sites.

A candidate needs to win more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a run-off.

Afghanistan's Electoral Complaints Commission has received more than 2,000 allegations of fraud or abuse from the August 20 presidential election. It says that some of the complaints, if true, would affect the final result.

Once there is a clear winner, international leaders are expected to convene a United Nations conference to discuss Afghanistan's future. A formal call for such a meeting has now been made by Britain, France and Germany.

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