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Karzai lashes out at UN over fraud
Afghan leader launches stinging attack on foreign officials over last year's elections.
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2010 16:48 GMT
Afghan parliament has rejected Karzai's attempt to have an all-Afghan body monitoring elections [AFP]

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has accused foreign election observers of fraud during last year's disputed elections.

Fraud had been widespread, Karzai conceded on Thursday, but he blamed foreigners for it, saying the United Nations was its focal point.

He singled out Peter Galbraith, the then deputy head of the UN mission, who he said had organised the fraud.

Karzai accused Galbraith of feeding details to the international media in an attempt to blacken his name.

"There was fraud in the presidential and provincial election, with no doubt there was massive fraud," he said.

"This wasn't fraud by Afghans but the fraud of foreigners, the fraud of Galbraith, of [head of the EU's observers Philippe] Morillon and the votes of the Afghan nation were in the control of an embassy."

James Bays, Al Jazeera's correspondent, said: "There is a real shock in the international community, they really weren't expecting this.

"In the last few days there was a parliamentary vote - which may be the reason that Karzai is so angry -  the Afghan parliament rejected his attempt to have an all-Afghan body monitoring elections."

Fraud allegations

Galbraith, a former US diplomat, was dismissed last year after alleging that the UN was not doing enough to combat fraud in the election.

In depth

  Afghanistan elections 2009
  Profile:
  Hamid Karzai
  Blog:
  Afghanistan's torturous politics
  Video:
  Afghan parliament challenges Karzai
  Interview with US commander in Helmand
  Taliban fighter says Nato losing Afghan support
  Frost over the World:
  Peter Galbraith
  Focus: 
  To win over Afghans, US must listen
  Timeline:
  Afghanistan in crisis

Karzai's international reputation took a battering last year after a UN-backed fraud watchdog threw out a third of the votes cast for him in last year's presidential election.

He is now wrangling with parliament and the United Nations over fraud protection measures for a parliamentary vote due in September.

"Foreigners will make excuses, they do not want us to have a parliamentary election," Karzai told a gathering of election officials.

"They want parliament to be weakened and battered, and for me to be an ineffective president and for parliament to be ineffective.

"You have gone through the kind of elections during which you were not only threatened with terror, you also faced massive interference from foreigners," Karzai said.

"Some embassies also tried to bribe the members of the commission."

He accused Galbraith of telling an election official he would be "digging himself an early grave" if Karzai was declared first round winner and said Morillon had tried to block the announcement of results to force Karzai to accept a political alliance.

Last year's election stand-off - which ended when the UN-backed body ordered a second round but Karzai's opponent quit - eroded support in the West for the eight-year-old war.

A new election confrontation could further sour public opinion in a decisive year, when Washington is sending an extra 30,000 troops.

Power struggle

Ahead of September's parliamentary poll, Karzai issued a decree in February revoking the power of the United Nations to appoint the majority of members of the election fraud watchdog.

Karzai is currently locked in a power
struggle with parliament [AFP]

The lower house of parliament rejected Karzai's decree on Wednesday, a move diplomats described as a rebuke for the president, although the motion would still need to pass in the upper house to restore UN oversight of the vote.

Karzai told the election officials and reporters his decree was vital to Afghanistan's sovereignty.

The United Nations has called for reforms to Afghanistan's election commission to prevent fraud, before it will agree to free up donor funds needed to pay for the September 18 vote.

"The foreigners have said if you don't dismiss these men, we will not give you any money," Karzai said, adding he would announce changes to the election commission next week.

The fraud watchdog is a separate body, which was led by a Canadian during last year's election and ordered the election commission to overturn Karzai's first round victory.

Staffan de Mistura, the new UN envoy, accepted a compromise offer from Karzai this month that would let the United Nations appoint a minority of members of the fraud watchdog, rather than the majority as it did last year.

Parliament'srejection of Karzai's decree means the status of that deal is now in
doubt.

"I am working on it. That's all I can say," de Mistura told the Reuters news agency late on Wednesday.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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