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KABUL - Afghanistan's election commission said on Wednesday it had fired more than 3,000 staff accused of fraud in the first round of the country's presidential election, as it sought to quell fears that it might fail to deliver a legitimate outcome.
Afghans voted on April 5 in the first round of the election to pick a successor to President Hamid Karzai, who is barred by the constitution from standing for a third term after more than a decade in power.
The winner will take charge at a crucial time, with most foreign troops due to withdraw by the end of the year, the Taliban insurgency still raging and a pact with Washington permitting some U.S. forces to stay hanging in the balance.
Spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said the Independent Election Commission had blacklisted the fired staff, so that they would not be hired in the second round.
"Some fraud was reported from those polling stations," he added, referring to the sites where the fired staff had worked.
Independent election monitors say many complaints were ignored in the effort to meet deadlines and the decision making process lacked transparency.
"The Complaints Commission must ensure to look into all the complaints so that the results are acceptable to all sides," said Jandad Spingar, director of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan. The run-off will be held on June 14 and the results will be announced on July 22.