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U.N. Official Planned to Replace Karzai

(CBS)
The number two United Nations official in Afghanistan, an American named Peter W. Galbraith, proposed replacing Afghan President Hamid Karzai as accusations of widespread election fraud were sweeping the country three months ago, reports the New York Times.

Galbraith says he never submitted a formal plan to replace the president, but had discussed the idea of convincing Karzai to step down so an interim government could take control of the country. He says he never talked about the plan with anyone outside the United Nations.

Former U.N. official Peter W. Galbraith.

But the American embassy in Kabul says Galbraith brought the plan to them. One Western diplomat says he suggested it to the deputy ambassador, Frank Ricciardone.

"Mr. Galbraith was outspoken within the diplomatic community about his concerns regarding fraud and its consequences, and raised questions about various alternatives to the elections," an embassy spokeswoman, Caitlin Hayden, told the Times. "The U.S. Embassy discouraged consideration of theoretical alternatives to the constitutional elections process whenever they were raised by any party, even while acknowledging flaws in the process."

Galbraith suddenly left Afghanistan in early September and was fired a few weeks later. He says he believes he was fired for fighting with his boss, Kai Eide, of Norway, who he said had hidden the true extent of the fraud.

Richard C. Holbrooke, the American envoy to Afghanistan, says he did not know about the proposal.

"And it does not reflect in any way any idea that Secretary Clinton or anyone else in the State Department would have considered," he said.

Eide, who detailed the controversial plan in a letter, said he rejected the plan when his deputy had proposed it.

Read more at The New York Times.