US and Britain diverge on election fraud in Afghanistan

US envoy Richard Holbrooke said delaying the vote count would benefit the Taliban, while British Foreign Secretary David Miliband urged that allegations of fraud be investigated.

By , Correspondent

Allegations of voter fraud in Afghanistan may be creating a rift between the United States and Britain.

Appearing on the BBC, US special envoy to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke had remarkably different things to say about the situation in Afghanistan than British Foreign Secretary David Miliband did.

Downplaying the election controversy in Afghanistan, Mr. Holbrooke characterized the rampant allegations of fraud as the sloppy, but normal side effects of democracy. Mr. Miliband said free and fair are not how his government would describe the elections. And while Holbrooke suggested that delaying the vote through a recount would only help the Taliban, Miliband emphasized that allegations of fraud must be investigated.

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Eight years after the 9/11 attacks, the US finds itself mired in controversy in Afghanistan. Troop deaths are at an all-time high, public support for the war is at all-time low, and efforts to build democracy through a national election have descended into chaos. Given the rampant allegations of corruption, the Christian Science Monitor stated in a recent editorial, the Obama administration should press for a recount:

Richard Holbrooke told the BBC that critics of the election should not “jump to conclusions,” and that the Taliban and Al Qaeda would benefit the longer the count is delayed.

Mr. Holbrooke tried to deflect criticism by saying that voting in the West was ‘imperfect’ as well:

But Britain’s foreign secretary seemed to take a different view, according to Reuters India.

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