Protest as Karzai opens Afghan parliament

Up to 200 losing candidates in the controversial poll staged a sit-in at Karzai's palace

Protest as Karzai opens Afghan parliament

Afghan President Hamid Karzai will open parliament on Wednesday, ending a standoff with lawmakers, but setting the stage for a longer battle against an assembly he has long ignored.

Karzai was set to inaugurate occupied Afghanistan's lower house of parliament Wednesday after days of tussles that pitted the leader against winners of September's parliamentary poll.

Karzai conceded Tuesday that he would inaugurate the Wolesi Jirga -- the lower house -- following pressure from the UN and the US, but lashed out at interference by "foreign hands" as he tried to calm angry losing candidates.

The president previously said he would delay the opening of parliament for a month to allow time for a special tribunal to investigate claims of irregularities in September's vote for the chamber.

"Protests"

Meanwhile, up to 200 losing candidates in the controversial poll staged a sit-in at Karzai's palace, after camping out overnight in protest at his decision to go ahead with the opening of the legislature.

Some 300 would-be MPs had met with the president a day earlier, urging him to delay the opening until a special tribunal had ruled on the fraud allegations.

Karzai tried to assuage the concerns of the losing candidates on Tuesday by blaming foreign interference for the ongoing crisis.

"Some foreign hands questioned our decisions and started instigation to create crises in our country," Karzai said, in a statement from his office.

They "kept provoking candidates (winning MPs) that they should inaugurate the parliament without the president's participation and that we will support you," the statement quoted the president saying.

On Tuesday former MP Daud Sultanzai accused foreign embassies and the UN of pulling the strings of the government in occupied Afghanistan.

"Are we living in an Afghanistan that belongs to the Afghan people or to the (UN) and foreign embassies?" he said.

Twenty-four early winners were disqualified, a quarter of the five million ballots cast were thrown out, and there were fewer wins than expected for the majority ethnic Pashtuns in the disputed vote four months ago.

Karzai has so far refused to endorse the poll results and despite agreeing to open the legislature he insists that the special tribunal he created to adjudicate claims of irregularities should stand.


Agencies

Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2011, 17:23
Add Comment