Karzai Refuses to Seat New Parliament

Lawmakers plan to convene anyway this weekend
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2011 2:42 PM CST
Afghan President Hamid Karzai reviews an honor guard at Vnukovo airport upon his arrival in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011.   (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

(Newser) – Hamid Karzai has delayed the inauguration of Afghanistan’s newly elected parliament, at the behest of a court he appointed himself to hear complaints from losing candidates largely loyal to him. Those candidates complain that fraud and security concerns excluded many people from the vote. But Karzai’s international allies insist the election was legitimate, and say the court he appointed to handle disputes is unconstitutional. Diplomats spent yesterday imploring Karzai to instate the new lawmakers on Sunday as scheduled. It didn't work, but the lawmakers say they plan to convene anyway, notes the Wall Street Journal.

Karzai’s been ruling by fiat since the election, something that makes the West nervous. “We cannot afford a country without a Parliament,” one diplomat tells the New York Times. “For Western taxpayers who are hungry for good news, this looks awful.” But instating the election’s winners has its dangers, too. Most of those allegedly excluded from the vote were Pashtuns in the war-torn south, and the losing candidates argue that excluding them will drive more people to the Taliban.

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