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Comment: West allows Karzai to save face Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   Khurasani Icon

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Posted 20 October 2009 - 05:14 PM

Comment: West allows Karzai to save face

It is a mark of how often the law is ignored in Afghanistan that President Hamid Karzai earned gushing international plaudits this afternoon for simply following the rules he threatened to boycott.

In conceding to a second round of voting he was merely admitting what the rest of the world has know for weeks – that more than a million votes in the August 20 election were faked, and that after seven years in charge he couldn’t muster enough support to win 50 per cent of the vote.

And that is hardly surprising, in a country that has seen an insurgency spiral out of control, while the government wastes few opportunities to steal from its people in what little territory they control. Trying to steal the election was perhaps just the latest example.

But no one mentioned the election fraud today. Instead the US senator, John Kerry, praised the President for showing genuine leadership and statesmanship by “moving the situation forward and embracing the constitution and the rule of law”.

“His agreement to move the process forward with respect to the run-off will allow the national leadership to govern with legitimacy,” Mr Kerry said.

“Dr Abdullah Abdullah (Karzai's main rival) has made the same decision. Both have demonstrated their commitment to building a lasting democracy.”

In fact, it was Mr Karzai’s leadership which threatened to undermine the government’s legitimacy, stall the election process and derail their country’s fledgling democracy.

The decision about a second round was never Mr Karzai’s to make. Either he got enough votes to win outright, or he didn’t.

But he made it his decision, by heaping pressure on the supposedly Independent Election Commission to ignore the fraud – which they willingly did.

Unfortunately for Mr Karzai, the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission was established for just such an eventuality, and they were harder to cajole.

If he couldn’t bully them into doing what he wanted, he would accuse them of interfering and ignore them – and that sent the international community into a panic.

Faltering support for the war back home would surely plummet when it emerged that our troops were fighting and dying for a government that stole in clear daylight and flouted the rule of law, world leaders reasoned.

The truth is they’ve been doing it for years. This was one of the few times that the international community stirred itself to do something about it.

And so President Obama took the lead in applying diplomatic pressure to Mr Karzai, suggesting that he was more worried about whether America had a credible partner in Kabul than whether or not to send more troops.

Gordon Brown called Mr Karzai twice within a week. Senator Kerry and France’s Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner arrived in Kabul to enforce the same message.

More than eight weeks after polling day there is still no winner. If Dr Abdullah decides to contest the second round of voting - and there remains credible speculation that he will not - then there is no guarantee that the run-off will be any fairer than the first round. The Taleban have already vowed to try and disrupt it, and no doubt people will die.

But the diplomacy worked. Mr Karzai conceded and, at least by preserving some semblance of credibility to Afghanistan’s electoral process, there’s a chance democracy might just survive.





http://www.timesonli...icle6882663.ece
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