Afghan MPs demand president form new parliament

KABUL (Reuters) – About 100 Afghan members of parliament demanded yesterday that President Hamid Karzai inaugurate the assembly by December 19, almost three weeks after final results of a fraud-marred election were declared.

Afghanistan’s political crisis has been simmering since even before the much-criticised September 18 ballot, with tension rising on reports the attorney general’s office had asked for the vote to be annulled.

The troubles send a worrying message of ongoing instability to US President Barack Obama as he completes a review of his Afghanistan war strategy this week.

Consistent allegations of vote fraud in the September poll, as well as in a presidential election last year, have raised questions about the credibility of Karzai and his government as a partner at a time when US and NATO leaders are assessing their long-term commitment to Afghanistan.

Final general election results from the country’s 34 provinces were released on December 1. Poll officials had said late in November that a new parliament could be formed within a week but there has been no attempt to convene the assembly.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) has accused the attorney general’s office of “irresponsible statements” and warned of a political crisis after local media reported he had called for election results to be cancelled.

About 100 MPs, calling themselves The Administrative Board of the Parliament, issued a three-point declaration after gathering at the legislature to discuss their next move.

“We call on the president to inaugurate parliament,” the group said in a declaration given to Reuters by Fawzia Kufi, an outspoken lawmaker from the northeastern province of Badakhshan.

She accused Karzai, who has been critical of the poll, of instigating efforts to have the results cancelled.
Karzai “cannot delay this anymore”, she said, referring to the inauguration. The group also said the attorney general’s office and the Supreme Court did not have the authority to interfere in the election process.

“The palace is behind this. Karzai is not happy with the results,” Kufi told Reuters.
Karzai is likely to face a larger, more vocal and coherent opposition than the previous chamber.  His spokesman, Waheed Omer, played down the delay in forming a parliament, saying the situation was comparable to those faced by other countries and Karzai would abide by the constitution.  “The current situation is not critical, it is a common situation … in many world democracies. The democracy in Afghanistan is nascent,” Omer told a news conference in Kabul.

“Whatever comes in the light of the law and becomes the (election) result, that should be acceptable to all,” he added when asked about whether attempts to annul the election would push the country into a political crisis.

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