Ousted: the US diplomat who wanted inquiry into Afghan vote

Peter Galbraith recalled by United Nations after row over disputed election

The senior American official at the United Nations mission in Afghanistan has been ousted after clashing with his superior over the recent fraud-ridden election. The angry row only underlines the acute difficulties the US and its allies face as they struggle to chart a way forward in the eight-year conflict.

Yesterday the UN confirmed that Peter Galbraith, the organisation's deputy special representative for Afghanistan, was being recalled by Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general – the culmination of a dispute that had long made it inconceivable that Mr Galbraith could ever return to his post.

As No 2 in the mission, Mr Galbraith was in charge of the UN's supervision of the 20 August election which returned President Hamid Karzai to power. But his insistence on a full investigation into the alleged massive ballot stuffing that marred the vote brought him into head-on conflict with his boss Kai Eide, head of the UN mission in Kabul, who favours a more cautious, less confrontational approach. It also made him virtually persona non grata with the Karzai government.

The clash, of both style and substance, split the UN mission. Neither Mr Eide nor Mr Galbraith bothered to conceal their differences. "The disagreement has been about how active the UN should be in promoting the goal [of free and fair elections]," Mr Galbraith acknowledged in a radio interview last week when asked about the turmoil. "Not surprisingly there are strong feelings within the mission."

The row became public last month, when Mr Galbraith returned to the US. His temporary absence was made permanent yesterday with a terse statement that he had been dismissed by the secretary general, who retained his "full support" for Mr Eide.

The announcement represents a victory not just for Mr Eide, a career Norwegian diplomat who has been the chief UN representative in Kabul since March 2008, but also for Mr Karzai. It proves once more that whatever the dissatisfaction of the US and its allies with the Afghan leader's performance, his removal is all but impossible.

Significantly, the removal of Mr Galbraith comes just days after the US and other Nato countries agreed to accept that Mr Karzai would be President for the next five years – to all intents and purposes burying the prospect of the run-off vote that would have been required had he failed to secure an outright majority. As it is, the latest tally gives the President 54 per cent, far ahead of his closest rival, the former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah.

The decision, taken on the sidelines of last week's UN General Assembly, signalled that Washington and its partners wanted to put the contested election behind them, in order to focus on the war. With the harsh Afghan winter approaching, any run-off would almost certainly have to wait until spring, when it might interfere with renewed military operations against the Taliban.

Outspoken and deeply committed to human rights, the 58-year old Mr Galbraith – a son of the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith – has decades of experience of global hot spots.

Given America's leadership of the coalition waging the Afghan war, it is scarcely imaginable that his dismissal by Mr Ban was not approved by the Obama administration. His departure casts another shadow over the crucial discussions under way here over future strategy in the war – in essence a choice between stepping up the war on the ground by injecting up to 40,000 more US troops, or scaling back operations to focus on al-Qa'ida.

* An Afghan girl died after a box of information leaflets – dropped by a British military plane – landed on top of her, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday. The MoD is investigating the incident which occurred three months ago in a rural area of Helmand.

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Extras
indybest

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Network Engineer - CCNP, Hedge Fund, London

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer - CCNP, Hedge Fu...

Senior Network Engineer-CCIE, Multicast, Low Latency

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-CCIE, Mul...

Network Infrastructure Engineer

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Infrastructure Engineer (...

Network Engineer (CCNP, BGP, Multicast)

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, BGP, Mult...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition