Wire: UN Fires Top US Diplomat in Afghanistan Who Complained About Election Fraud
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2009 -- Newswire services this evening reported that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon fired the top American official at the U.N. mission in Afghanistan on Wednesday after a widely publicized dispute with his boss over how to deal with widespread fraud charges in the country's presidential election.
The Associated Press reported that U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said in a statement that Ban decided to recall Peter Galbraith and end his appointment as the U.N.'s deputy special representative.
Diplomats said Galbraith disagreed with the head of the U.N. mission, Kai Eide, over how the U.N. should handle the disputed election.The Washington Post said Galbraith had pushed Eide, to forcefully address the claims of fraud.
The secretary-general reaffirmed "his full support for Eide" and made his decision "in the best interest of the mission," Montas said.
Neither Galbraith nor Eide, a Norwegian diplomat, have offered details of the disagreement, though Eide has confirmed that the two split over election issues.
The delay in final results from the Aug. 20 vote has led to fears of a power vacuum in the Afghan government that could endure until spring, even as Taliban violence against U.S. and NATO soldiers and Afghan civilians continues to rise.
The U.N. Mission in Afghanistan, known as UNAMA, had a mandate to support the Afghan government in conducting the Aug. 20 elections. It also has a mandate to lead international civilian efforts to provide aid, promote reconstruction, combat corruption, help improve civilian-military cooperation, and expand the U.N. presence throughout the country to promote good governance and the rule of law.
In an interview, Galbraith said his dismissal sent a bad signal about the United Nations' commitment to fair elections.See links below for details.
"I think there was massive fraud in the elections -- no doubt about that," said Galbraith, who is now in the United States. "It undermines the credibility of the election process. I took seriously the mandate to support free, fair and transparent elections."
Galbraith said Eide had suppressed "extensive data" on fraud that the United Nations had collected, not sharing it with Afghan election officials. "I felt we should share it; Kai did not," he said.
Officials from the United States and other NATO countries in Afghanistan have told incumbent President Hamid Karzai that they expected him to win another five-year term. Afghanistan's election commission has said that he won 54.6 percent of the vote, but the United Nations is investigating the results.
(Report from newswire sources.)
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