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Afghanistan - France

Karzai outburst astonishes Paris

Reuters

France is “astonished” by Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s claim that foreign diplomats and observers were behind the widespread fraud in last year’s presidential election. Karzai lashed out the day after parliament scrapped his bid to nominate the Election Complaints Commission.

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“These statements seem to us to have no basis,” declared Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Bernard Valero in response to Karzai’s speech to Afghan election commission workers in Kabul.

“There was fraud in presidential and provincial council elections - no doubt that there was a very widespread fraud, very widespread," Karzai said. "But Afghans did not do this fraud. The foreigners did this fraud."

Karzai singled out former UN deputy head of mission Peter Galbraith, who was sacked after a row with his boss Kai Eide over how to react to fraud, and EU election observation mission chief, Philippe Morillon, who is a French general.

Karzai claimed that Galbraith had told chief electoral officer Daud Ali Najafi that he would be “digging [his] grave with [his] own hands” if he announced results, which showed Karzai winning in the first round.

"The United Nations, the United Nations office of the deputy [UN representative – Galbraith] had become the focal point for fraud," Karzai said, going on to accuse "some embassies" of trying to bribe electoral commission members by offering them armoured vehicles.

On Wednesday Afghan MPs voted to overturn an order by Karzai which gave him the right to name all members of the Electoral Complaints Commission, the body with international representatives that backed fraud accusations after last year’s poll.

On Thursday he criticised the vote, saying that he had been trying to “Afghanise” the electoral process.

The whole point about the fraud was the electoral commission of Afghanistan appeared to be condoning it and had to be led kicking and screaming into a process of recounting the vote ... It's perfectly obvious that the EU and the UN were not the ones perpetrating the fraud.

Gerard Russell, Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard University

"What I see here is a refusal to accept that there was a deep flaw in the way the election was carried out and it gives the worst possible indications of what he plans for September," comments Gerard Russell, a former UN official in Afghanistan.

"The issue that President Karzai is reacting to is that both these individuals that he names - Christophe Morillon and Peter Galbraith - went public with their accusations. That's why he's singling out these two individuals."

Other monitors did not go public about what they saw, Russell says.

"That was a mistake because frankly although the UN in the end tried to conciliate president Karzai it was impossible to conciliate him."

Karzai’s representatives had already said that he would let non-Afghans join the commission for September’s parliamentary elections.
 

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