Afghan presidential rival releases 'fraud' video
The main challenger for the Afghan presidency released a video Thursday that he said showed supporters of President Hamid Karzai fraudulently marking ballots in the August 20 presidential poll, AFP reported.
Abdullah Abdullah, who scored 28 percent according to preliminary results, handed the video to Kabul-based media to bolster his accusations that Karzai rigged the vote.
The video released by Abdullah's office appears to show several men and a woman wearing Afghan national dress in a room with ballot papers and open ballot boxes scattered around them.
The woman is seen stamping ballot papers that favour Karzai at speed.
One of the men folds the papers and throws them onto a pile, while another displays the ticked ballot papers to the camera.
All of those involved seem aware of the camera, but show no discomfort.
Karzai leads the preliminary results with around 55 percent, though recounting and auditing of suspect ballots could cut his lead to below the 50 percent-plus-one-vote mark required for victory. That would force a run-off.
The final result of the election is expected within the next two weeks, as electoral authorities investigate fraud allegations.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) plan to recount 10 percent of votes from 3,063 ballot boxes that were deemed suspect, electoral officials said.
An official involved in the process said the ballot boxes were being brought to Kabul for the recount, which will begin "not any earlier than Sunday".
IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor told AFP that the release of the Abdullah video could be an effort to undermine the election process, which has generated intense controversy as the country awaits the outcome.
"Right now we are in the process of recounting some of the votes. The goal is to find out if there was real fraud or if this is an effort to defame the process of the election," Noor told AFP.
On Wednesday, the UN's deputy special representative to Afghanistan, Peter Galbraith, was sacked over what he said was his questioning of the vote.
In an interview with the BBC, Galbraith described the IEC as "ostensibly an independent election body but actually very much supporting Karzai".