Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, July 20th, 2018

From Wrestling with International Community to an Internal Game of Unknown Consequences

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From Wrestling with International Community to an Internal Game of Unknown Consequences

It is now becoming evident that President Hamid Karzai is relentlessly stubborn in continuing the ongoing parliamentary election crisis. President Karzai created this crisis extra-constitutionally and now wants to trample the constitution and other laws enforced in the country by hook or by crook. From the very beginning when he expressed his dissatisfaction with the parliamentary election results last year, he appeared to be intent upon starting a political game to play during his tenure. When he established the Special Election Tribunal, independent lawyers called it as illegal.

But president Karzai took up the gauntlet and provided an illegal body with money to interfere in electoral process, which had just begun to slowly restore public confidence after the 2009 flawed presidential elections as a result of which president Karzai himself assumed his second tenure as president. On Thursday, July 07, president Karzai set up another committee to mull over the solution put forth by the Independent Election Commission and come up with a decision on the way forward. On Saturday, July 09, president Karzai instructed related agencies to follow the suggestions set forth by the committee.

In fact, this committee is part of the evils that spread after president Karzai opened the Pandora's box by establishing the special election court just because his favored candidates failed to receive enough votes to be elected to Wolesi Jirga. According to the suggestions of the working committee, the decision of special election tribunal is not final and it should be reviewed in Kabul appeal court. But on Sunday, July 10, the House of Representatives by issuing a statement expressed objection to president Karzai's newly made commission's review of an initiative with six articles of Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC).

The MP's warned that no one has the right to change the final result of Parliamentary elections and any attempt at this will be against the country's law. In the meantime, head of IEC, Fazl Ahmad Manawi, in an interview said that IEC's result for Parliamentary elections would not be changed, stressing that the decision of the Special Electoral Tribunal is illegal. As well, the Wolesi Jirga has sent a letter to Inter-Parliamentary Union to support this elected institution against the attempts made by president Karzai to de-legitimize it.

It should be mentioned that the election court itself did not have any legal base. In the meanwhile, the court did not process the recount transparently. It is not clear how president Karzai orders the review of an ambiguous decision at the appeal court. So there is no legal base for president Karzai's relentless pursuit of this political game. It is an utter political game of unknown consequences that president Karzai is playing.

It is therefore important for elected representatives of Afghan people, legal institutions, civil society organizations and other stakeholders to pool their efforts together to check him. International community that observed the pre-election period, election-day and post-election developments seems to be unhappy with the political game president Karzai is playing at this critical juncture. The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon's special representative to Afghanistan has said that the UN once again welcomes the final results of parliamentary elections that were announced by the IEC.

Mr. Karzai's quasi-legitimate election as president could have improved in almost last two years had he begun to address some of the major issues facing the country. Security remains a top priority for Afghan people. Rampant corruption in the government continues to widen the gap between the government and people. Economy of the country is shaky as another bank is said to be on the verge of collapse. By commencing to address some of these issues, president Karzai could demonstrate his competence and improve his legitimacy, which could eventually help him get rid of the trauma of his election scandal. But unfortunately he not only did not think of improving his image but also began to listen to his inner circles and is lowering his credibility inside and outside the country in the eyes of people.

The Coalition for Protection of Law has warned that government would not be able to change people's will just because it is against the president's grain. In a gathering held over the weekend to show their firm opposition to the ongoing attempts by president Karzai to unseat some of the MPs at his pleasure, the members of this coalition called the Special Election Court as illegal. Haji Abdul Zahir Qadir, head of the Coalition to Protection Law said, "I will not accept any kind of political deal against the will of Afghan people and against the constitution." Mohammad Yonus Qanooni, the former speaker of the house, a current MP and a prominent member of the coalition told the gathering, "As one of your friends, I will never let the Afghan government to change people's determination." Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, a well-known and the most voted MP from Kabul and the leader of one of the major political parties said, "In no part of the world, MPs who have been announced winners have ever been announced as losers after months of assuming their work."

So what is clear now is that MPs will stand against president Karzai's autocratic attempts because a prosperous and democratic future lies in preventing the attempts at derailing this democratization process. Over the past few years, president karzai's decisions, actions and behaviors continued to tend towards unconventionality.

To put in his own word, president Karzai's continued "slight wrestling" with international community has benefited just the terrorists and enemies of security and peace. His refusal to root out corruption and eliminate the culture of impunity is an indication of a lack of political will on his part to move the country towards a stable future. President Karzai's ongoing extra-constitutional attempts at undermining the legislature and instead strengthening the traditional institutions such as traditional Loya Jirga, Consultative Peace Jirga and High Peace Council shows that centralized power does not work in Afghanistan, whose history is a history of destructive despotisms and oppressive autocracies.

We are reminded of John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton's famous word that says, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." So it is important for the international community to, in the short term, put pressure on president Karzai to undo the evils that continue to spread and help Afghan people come up with a decentralized power structure in the long run.

Sher Alam Saqib is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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