World Bulletin / News Desk
The United States has cancelled funding for opinion polls in the run-up to Afghanistan's presidential election, a U.S.-funded group said, after a first poll in December triggered accusations of U.S. attempts to manipulate the outcome.
The cut in funding comes as relations between the United States and Afghanistan have been severely strained over President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign a bilateral security pact that would enable U.S. troops to stay beyond this year.
An official at a U.S.-funded group said it and other such organisations had planned to carry out opinion polls as Afghanistan prepares for the April 5 election.
"There were a few agencies that were responsible for conducting the polls but all of them have been cancelled at the moment," Mohammad Atta, programme officer with the Democracy International group, said on Thursday.
His group had planned three rounds off opinion polls and published its first results in December. But its findings provoked a public outcry and accusations of interference.
The U.S. embassy declined to comment immediately on the reason for the cancellation of the polls but ties with Karzai, who has served two terms and is not running again, have been brittle for months.
Karzai has long suspected the United States of interfering in the last presidential election in 2009 and he has warned against further meddling.
Former U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates recently published a memoir appearing to confirm Karzai's suspicion, saying the then top U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan had been "doing his best to bring about the defeat of Karzai".
Last Mod: 30 Ocak 2014, 15:04