Karzai opens Afghan parliament, condemns ‘foreign interference’

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January 26, 2011 19:56

President Karzai's ties with the West have strained since the last few years. Photo - Omar Sobhani/Reuters

Who: Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

What: Karzai inaugurated the the Wolesi Jirga – the lower house – ending weeks of political infighting but lashed out at the West saying “foreign interference” had been a serious problem in the country. “During the election process we faced serious problems in protecting people’s votes, preventing fraud and from the interference of foreigners,” Karzai said in his opening speech to members of the assembly. He emphasised the need to ‘Afghanise’ government institutions and the elections. “Undoubtedly, elections convened by the Afghans will be more transparent, less expensive,” the Afghan president added.

Where: The parliament was inaugurated in the Afghan capital city of Kabul.

When: President Karzai made the speech on Wednesday, 26 January.

Why: Analysts believe Hamid Karzai is irked by the statements made by Western governments that expressed concerns over the delay of the parliament’s inauguration and the formation of a special election tribunal. Karzai has routinely accused Western powers of meddling in fraud-ridden presidential elections that saw him re-elected in 2009. He blamed foreign interference for damaging last year’s parliamentary vote results. Ironically, Hamid Karzai was installed as the president of Afghanistan by Western powers after the overthrow of the Taliban regime in December, 2001.

How: Despite acknowledging there was fraud in the poll, the West has pushed President Karzai to quickly convene the assembly. Massive irregularities were reported in the disputed vote four months ago with twenty-four early winners disqualified and a quarter of the five million ballots cast thrown out. There were fewer wins than expected for the majority ethnic Pashtuns as well.

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