Afghan election: Half of electoral staff sacked

Afghan election officials count ballots in Herat (17 April) Both the candidates who will go through to the second round have made allegations of fraud

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Afghanistan's election commission has fired 5,338 of its staff over alleged fraud in the first round of presidential elections last month.

Those sacked will be barred from working on the second round next month, commission officials said.

Both the leading candidates have made allegations of fraud.

Millions of Afghans defied Taliban threats to take part in the election. Turnout was double that of the previous election in 2009.

Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah won the most votes in the first round, with 44.9%. Ex-Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani came second with 31.5%.

Most of those dismissed were district field co-ordinators who were responsible for polling centres on election day, says the BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul.

The head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan, Yousaf Nuristani, told reporters he had asked the interior minister to sack several police chiefs who were involved in electoral fraud in the first round.

The number of polling stations will be increased for the second round on 14 June, our correspondent says - up by 3,500 to 23,312.

The next president will face several challenging issues, including the expected withdrawal of foreign combat troops later this year and attacks by the Taliban.

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