Karzai agrees to open Afghan parliament

Karzai struck a last-minute deal with representatives to open the session on Wednesday, just three days after the originally planned Jan. 23 ceremony.

Karzai agrees to open Afghan parliament

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday agreed to open parliament after saying he would delay the inauguration by a month, according to lawmakers.

Karzai struck a last-minute deal with representatives to open the session on Wednesday, just three days after the originally planned Jan. 23 ceremony.

He also suggested he could abolish a special election court which sparked the crisis.

The reverse is a political climbdown that will please both Karzai's foreign partners and Afghan opposition politicians who worried the president was over-reaching his powers.

The crisis began when Karzai earlier this week backed a request from the poll tribunal -- which he had set up -- to allow another month to probe fraud claims from the Sept. 18 vote.

Lawmakers furious that they still had not met four months after the election, and nearly two months after final results were announced, denounced the tribunal and the delay as illegal.

They threatened to meet at parliament on Sunday regardless of whether Karzai showed up, and said security forces had promised not to block them from the building, suggesting Karzai did not have the backing of his cabinet.

The nations that occupy the country were also unhappy. The United Nations, United States, European Union and Canada issued a joint statement expressing "deep concern".

"We have agreed on Karzai's request to open parliament on Wednesday and refrain from going to parliament tomorrow," said Sediq Ahmad Usmani, a representative from Parwan province, as he headed home close to midnight.

Karzai's spokesmen could not be reached for comment.

"The majority of us may agree on what has been proposed by the president, but there is no guarantee he won't back away," said Sharifullah Kamawal, a member of parliament for Kabul.

The lawmakers have drafted a three-point note which they will send to parliament, committing to a Wednesday opening but also rejecting the election tribunal and any other decision it makes.

"We have agreed that the special court is not valid for us, any decision it makes is not acceptable to us and we will strongly reject it," said the third point on the statement.

Lawmakers quoted Karzai as saying during the negotiations that he might be willing to set aside the election court that sparked the crisis.

"Karzai has agreed that criminal cases should be decided according to the laws and constitution. If the special court is illegal then it will automatically be abolished," said Mirwais Yasini, a representative for eastern Nangarhar province.

Karzai set up the tribunal by presidential decree after protests by losing candidates angry at corruption and winners frustrated that they still had not taken their seats.



Agencies

Last Mod: 23 Ocak 2011, 16:28
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