Afghan Parliament Rejects Karzai Attempt to Control UN Election Watchdog

Ruling Could Delay Election, But May Not Stop Karzai's Power Grab

by Jason Ditz, March 31, 2010

Afghan President Hamid Karzai received a considerable rebuke today from the lower house of Afghan’s Parliament, who unanimously voted to oppose a February decree which would allow Karzai near unilateral control over the UN election watchdog, the Electoral Complaints Commission.

Karzai had insisted that it was inappropriate to allow foreigners on the commission, and that only those he appointed could be counted on to make decisions in the “national interest.” After Karzai won last year’s presidential election with over a million fraudulent votes, many opponents worried he was not exactly trustworthy to appoint those investigating similar fraud in future votes.

But diplomats say the parliament vote may not block the decree, and that the decision would not only have to be agreed to by parliament’s upper house, but also signed off on by Karzai himself. Needless to say, that last part is unlikely.

If nothing else the decision will throw Karzai’s move into even more doubt internationally, almost certainly preventing the UN from funding the election.

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