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    About 270,000 observers to oversee poll process

    KABUL (PAN): About 270,000 observers will be deployed across the country to try to prevent ballot rigging or other incidents of fraud in the September 18 election, election officials said.

    The observers would try to prevent the use of any fake ballots, Electoral Complaints Commission chief, Syed Murad Sharifi said on Wednesday, adding that the observers would focus on areas where polling stations were most at risk.

    Despite sophisticated equipment in place to avoid fraud, ECC officials said they could not rule it out as a possibility. About 1,500 complaints had been registered with the ECC and 70 percent had been investigated, the ECC spokesman, Ahmad Zia Rafat said. Many of the remaining 30 percent were "common complains" or "without evidence", he said.

    He said the names of 80 candidates had been removed from the preliminary and final lists, based on complaints. About 427 complaints were received before the start of the campaign and the rest during the two-month campaign period, he said.

    The complaints hearing process started on May 10.

    A final list of candidates was issued on June 31, with 2,556 names, but about 40 had since been disqualified. Rafat said some other names would be removed and that they would be announced on Thursday.

    frm/cas