Karzai Relents, Agrees to Seat Afghan Parliament

Lawmakers can get to work next week, finally
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 22, 2011 5:09 PM CST
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai at a press conference in Moscow Friday.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

(Newser) – Under heavy pressure from Afghan lawmakers and Western diplomats, President Hamid Karzai agreed today to convene the newly elected parliament, ending a political standoff that threatened to spark a constitutional crisis. After hours of tense discussions at the presidential palace, Karzai backed off his earlier order to delay the session for a month to allow more time for a special tribunal to investigate allegations of fraud in September's parliamentary election. It's expected to take place Wednesday.

While he has not said so publicly, it is generally believed that Karzai is unhappy with the election results and thinks fraud reduced voter turnout among his fellow ethnic Pashtuns. The order to delay the parliament, however, sparked an outcry among lawmakers and drew heavy pressure from the United States, the UN, and other world powers for Karzai to resolve the dispute and allow the 249-seat legislature to get to work.

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