September 30, 2009
Anna Christopher, NPR



Galbraith tells NPR he has: "Never seen a UN-supported election like this one. That is, the level of fraud and blatantly partisan behavior"

September 30, 2009; Washington, D.C. Ambassador Peter Galbraith, who was removed from his position today as the deputy United Nations special representative for Afghanistan, tells NPR News of rampant fraud in the Afghanistan presidential elections, saying that he has "never seen a UN supported election like this one. That is, that the level of fraud and the blatantly partisan behavior by the independent election commission." The interview with Galbraith, conducted by host Robert Siegel, is airing this afternoon on NPR News' All Things Considered. A full transcript and audio of the interview will be available at

Galbraith was the highest-ranking American official in Afghanistan working for the UN mission; today, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recalled Galbraith from Afghanistan over disagreements he had with the head of the mission there, special envoy Kai Eide. Galbraith tells NPR that his dispute with Eide "was whether the United Nations should do anything about the fraud that took place." He continues: "When the question of fraud came up, I simply could not ignore it, I could not be complicit in a cover-up, I could not down-play it."

Asked whether his dispute with Eide was, according to a senior UN official, over style, not substance, Galbraith says: "No, that's totally inaccurate and it's an effort to obscure the issues that are stake. This was a serious, long-running disagreement about how to handle fraud in the Afghan elections. ...I tried to get the Afghan government to reduce the number of polling centers and to remove from the list those in these insecure areas. ...But the Afghan government, naturally, complained. They were the beneficiaries of the fraud. And Kai Eide, the head of the mission, decided that we would say nothing more about polling centers. We had the same argument when it came to whether we would share the very extensive data that we gathered on fraud in the election with the Afghan electoral institutions. He was opposed to us providing that data even though we had collected hundreds of cases of fraud and a lot of evidence on turn out, that showed a very low turn out in the southern provinces, from which, however, a large number of votes were reported to have been tallied."

Asked whether, in criticizing the election results, he risked being seen as a supporter for opposition candidate Abdullah Abdullah, Galbraith says: "I was a supporter of something very simple: that is to say, of the right of the Afghan people who voted in parts of the country at considerable risk, to have their votes counted in an honest way, and for fraudulent votes to be excluded. I had no favorites in the Afghan presidential contest. When the question of fraud came up, I simply could not ignore it, I could not be complicit in a cover-up, I could not down-play it."

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