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I want you out, Eide tells Galbraith.

KABUL (PAN): Americas top diplomat at the United Nations mission in Afghanistan has been ordered out of the country after a row with his boss over how to respond to last months fraud-riddled presidential elections, it has been alleged.

The alleged quarrel is threatening to spark a mutiny within the UN mission. At least a dozen senior staff are backing the American, Peter Galbraith, in the dispute with his Norwegian superior, Kai Eide. Galbraith, a close friend of the US special envoy Richard Holbrooke, left for Boston on Sunday after a heated meeting with Afghan election officials.

His pointed questions to the Independent Election Commission (IEC) were evidence of a much tougher line towards the Afghan authorities than the softly-softly approach of Eide, who heads the UN mission to Kabul.

The relationship between Kai and Peter has completely broken down. Peter has left the country.

The official line is that hes on a three-week mission to New York. But Kai just turned round to Peter and said, I want you out.

The apparent row illustrates the deepening divisions within the international community on whether to allow President Karzai to claim re-election in the presidential poll.

Galbraith wants the IEC to annul results from 1,000 of the total of about 6,500 polling stations and to recount results from another 5,000, diplomatic sources said. Eide, a former UN envoy in Bosnia, seeks only a face-saving recount of some 1,000 polling places, the sources said. Galbraiths wholesale recount would virtually ensure a second round in the election, denying Karzai his claimed first-round victory.

Harsh winter weather means that the second round could not be held before May,leaving Afghanistan in political limbo.

Eides solution would probably enable Karzai to claim victory, although with a reduced margin. Eide and Galbraith insist that they are old friends from serving in the Balkans. Indeed, Eide introduced Galbraith to the Norwegian anthropologist who became his wife. But Eide is said to have lobbied behind the scenes to block Galbraiths appointment as his deputy in March and their relationship appears to have deteriorated.

The row worsened when Eide left Afghanistan to celebrate his wedding anniversary in Norway after the election and refused to cut short his break despite the fraud allegations. Eide was out of the country when the election-rigging issue reached a head last Tuesday.

The IEC were preparing to announce the last 15 per cent of ballots, coming from the most controversial areas of the south and Badghis province in the north.

All are expected to return big majorities for Mr Karzai. Galbraith then stepped in and forced the more robust line from the IEC, forcing them to agree not to announce the controversial last results.

At a meeting with IEC officials on Sunday, Galbraith laid into the commissioners, in front of the donors and observers and demanded to know why they had not started printing ballot papers as part of a run-off contingency plan.

Mr Eide, now back in Kabul, has urged his staff not to speak out against the fraud because he fears that it will destabilise efforts to build a democracy.

He is also afraid that fraud investigations will be seen as foreign interference, because three of the five people in charge of the Election Complaints Commission are UN appointees.

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Publication:Pajhwok Afghan News (Kabul, Afghanistan)
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Sep 16, 2009
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