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Afghanistan

Constitutional standoff delays parliament opening

Reuters/Ahmad Masood

A constitutional standoff in Afghanistan continues to delay the opening of parliament on Monday, threatening a new crisis. President Hamid Karzai and parliamentarians are arguing over the legality of a Supreme Court special tribunal, which rules on electoral fruad during the elections four months ago.

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Lawmakers, after pressure from the United Nations, had agreed to accept Karzai's call that they accept the authority of the special tribunal and that parliament be opened on Wednesday.

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

But after MPs met on Sunday, new tensions emerged, as the group believed that Karzai would throw some members out of parliament.

"We are not meeting with the president today, we have sent him our last decision yesterday which is not changeable for us," said Mohammad Sarwar Usmani, who is the temporary speaker of the new parliament.

Usmani said that they wanted the regular Afghan courts to handle the case, not the special court set up by Karzai.

Elections for the lower house of parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, last September, were considered fraudulent.

Some 24 winners were disqualified and one-quarter of the five million votes cast were thrown out.

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