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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Election Fraud in Afghanistan Throws Country into Tumult

President Hamid Karzai today ordered the delay of the new Parliament by another month, which would bring the total months the state has gone without a parliament to five. International backers, who have invested millions of dollars into monitoring and validating the elections, insist the results are valid despite the uncovering of widespread fraud.

Had Mr. Karzai acknowledged that the election were indeed valid, and allowed the new Parliament to be inaugurated, then the Pashtuns (an ethnic group which Mr. Karzai belongs to) would have lost their majority. In the past this body of representatives acted as a virtual rubber stamp for the President’s policies. This conflict of interest makes Mr. Karzai’s concerns of election fraud seem corrupt at best, and dictatorial at worst. Many Western diplomats have been scrambling to persuade the President to inaugurate the parliament. Western officials speaking on condition of anonymity to the New York Times wondered “Is a delay the endgame, or is it no parliament for another year that’s the endgame, or is it a throw-out of Parliament altogether?”

Not only would this have massive repercussions for the legitimacy of the government by Afghanis and by the international community, but it could also threaten to heave the country into violent political protests and upheaval. A loss on the good governance front could also play directly into the hands of fundamentalist Islamists, who argue that an Islamic approach to government would be better for Afghans.

The election committee in charge of certifying the results has said that the results are final and there is no legal mechanism for changing that. Fortunately for Mr. Karzai, Afghanistan is so corrupt, there are always ‘extra legal’ ways of getting things done. One thing he has done along these lines is appoint a “special court” to investigate the fraud (I use quotations because according to the Afghan constitution this court is completely illegal). This same special court is the one responsible for the request to delay the inauguration.

So this is what ten years, billions and trillions of dollars, thousands upon thousands of lives, and the loss of international prestige has bought us??? So much for democracy in Afghanistan.

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