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NATO head urges Afghans to respect election tally

NATO head urges Afghans to respect election tally

NATO's secretary-general urged all parties in Afghanistan on Tuesday to respect the outcome of the vote despite allegations of electoral fraud in last week's presidential ballot.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen spoke as Afghanistan's electoral commission announced initial results of last week's presidential ballot. It said that President Hamid Karzai and top challenger Abdullah Abdullah both have roughly 40 percent of the nationwide vote _ with just 10 percent of ballots counted so far.
"It is important that these elections are seen as credible," he said at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels after meeting Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.
"I would urge all parties in Afghanistan to handle the electoral process in a proper manner," he said.
Karzai's political opponents have alleged that fraud has been carried out in favor of the president.
Fogh Rasmussen also called on NATO members to remain committed to the fight against the Taliban, as public opposition to the war in Europe and the U.S. grows.
European analysts have predicted that a rigged election result would call into question the new government's legitimacy and sharply undermine support for the war among NATO countries.
Fogh Rasmussen also addressed the rising death toll among coalition troops in Afghanistan, another factor behind the gradual erosion of public support for the war.
NATO has nearly 65,000 troops _ about 30,000 of them Americans _ in Afghanistan, more than double the number a year ago. The U.S. maintains an additional 30,000 troops there under a separate command.
In the latest violence, a bomb blast killed four U.S. soldiers in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday. Their deaths brought to at least 292 the number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year, already surpassing the number of allied soldiers who died in all of 2008.
"It is critically important that we stay committed to Afghanistan," Fogh Rasmussen said. "It is about our own security. If we allow terrorism to get rooted again in Afghanistan, it would spread quickly to other parts of the world.
"I hope that people in troop-contributing countries understand that," he said.


Updated : 2021-04-15 06:19 GMT+08:00