Western officials and top tribal figures gathered today in the city of Kabul, virtually shut down for the entire day for the event, to welcome the inauguration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to his second term in office.
If there were any reservations about the process by which Karzai was “re-elected” among the gathered dignitaries, which included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Foreign Secretary David Milliband, no one showed it. Karzai was leading in the first round of voting in no small measure because of over a million fraudulent votes cast on his behalf, and officials cancelled the second round of voting after his top rival was unable to receive any assurances that Karzai would make changes for the runoff.
Now President Karzai is being charged by Western officials with tackling the growing corruption in his nation, and his administration. Exactly why they think Karzai has either the ability or inclination to clean up the dirty business of occupation politics in Afghanistan is unclear, but he promised to all the same.
Afghanistan is neck-and-neck with Somalia in sheer corruption levels according to a recent study, making it one of the two worst nations in the world. That study’s release this week was punctuated by the announcement that Afghanistan’s Minister of Mines took a $20 million bribe to give a copper mining project to a Chinese firm.
The gathering of top Western officials to celebrate what Afghans must see as at the very least a bittersweet end to one of the most corrupt political campaigns in modern memory will likely raise further questions, even as it grants Karzai an air of legitimacy internationally, as a recognized, if not really elected, leader.
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