Karzai takes control of poll watchdog

Hamid Karzai in London last month
Hamid Karzai in London last month REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has issued a decree granting himself full control over the country's Electoral Complaints Commission, the ECC.


A spokesperson from Karzai’s office confirmed that the President has amended the electoral law to allow him to choose all five members of the ECC, defying pressure from foreign powers to have international representatives on the body.

“Karzai’s people say that having foreign nationals in the process was undermining, as they trm it, the ‘Afghanisation’ of the process,” correspondent Sardar Ahmad told RFI. “It’s all political games. I’m sure with over 2,000 independent television channels and dozens of newspapers and a free media it will have a strong reaction very soon.”

The ECC, which had three foreign members, helped expose fraud in last year's presidential election, although a second round never took place because Karzai’s principal challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, stood down.

The Independent Electoral Commission, which gave the poll a clean bill of health, was already made up of Karzai appointees.

The outgoing UN representative Kai Eide is reported to have made a deal with Karzai that two of the electoral commissioners would be foreigners. One of these was expected to have vetoing power.

The decree comes three days after the opening of parliament when President Hamid Karzai's included reforming the ECC in his list of priorities. It also follows last month’s London conference where he promised to clean up the electoral process, as well as tackling corruption, another promise he has yet to deliver on

A parliamentary election is scheduled for this September.

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