He is the beneficiary of industrial strength ballot fraud, whose gradual but systematic encroachments on the principles of representative democracy have placed him on the same road taken by Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Iran’s President Ahmad Ahmadinejad.
Now Hamid Karzai has taken another big step down that road by unilaterally striking the monitors selected by his international sponsors from Afghanistan’s top election watchdog, the Electoral Complaints Commission.
Ominously, the Obama administration has expressed support for the power-grab (see Update below).
In a decree published Monday, Karzai will have exclusive power to appoint all five members of the ECC panel, making good on a promise to his political cronies to “Afghanize” the oversight of future elections in Afghanistan, including the parliamentary vote to be held later this year.
“We all know what Afghanization means for Mr. President!” quips one Afghan official, who was harshly critical of the systematic ballot stuffing that secured Karzai’s controversial re-election last year.
An Afghan parliamentary source tells Skyreporter: “Afghanization means total control for Karzai and Company. He’s telling his Western sponsors ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ when it comes to overseeing the country’s polls.”
Truth be told, those international sponsors deserve much of the blame for the Karzai regime’s collapse in credibility, according to one Western diplomat who witnessed first-hand the tactics employed by the president and his ministers in the compromised 2009 vote.
“The international community has been hoodwinked again,” he tells Skyreporter. “They should hang their heads in shame because Karzai has forced their hand and they’ve blinked.
“Now he knows that the international community really doesn't care about governance and democratic development. Everything is negotiable.”
Similarly, the Canadian who served as chairman of the ECC in last year’s election calls Karzai’s targeting of the commission "a blatant attempt at interfering with the functioning of the only Afghanistan electoral body that properly discharged its mandate".
Grant Kippen tells Skyreporter that the reworking of the election law while parliament was in recess calls Karzai’s motives into question.
“There first needs to be an honest, frank and public assessment undertaken in order to ensure that those parts of the process that didn't work in last year's elections will be improved.
“Amending the law prior to such assessment is to preclude what changes should be made. And the new law might even act as an impediment to introducing those badly needed changes.”
Kippen and his two non-Afghan colleagues, appointed by the United Nations, constituted the crucial checks and balances that forced an investigation of widespread fraud in the presidential vote.
He says he’s especially worried about Karzai’s hand-picked choice as the new head of the ECC, who has pledged that Afghan staff members thought to be “complicit in the international conspiracy” will be fired from their posts.
“It would be a travesty to see a purging of the present Afghan staff, whose personal and professional commitment to the complaints process should be a tremendous source of pride for all Afghans.
“After all, the Electoral Complaints Commission was an Afghan institution under the election law and it was made up of over 250 Afghans in all 34 provinces of the country.
“It would be a sad milestone for the international donors who invested millions of dollars in the ECC if staff members were to be punished for simply doing the job they were assigned.”
Sad milestones, however, are currently the U.S.-led coalition’s specialty. Their collateral killings of civilians have provided Karzai with a timely platform for his denunciations of "foreign interference".
For its part, the United Nations appears to have bowed out completely from the elections controversy. The U.N. in Kabul has advised the embassies of its member nations that if they take exception to Karzai’s rewriting of the law, they should lobby the palace directly.
Where does all of this leave the internationals’ two stated priorities of the moment - a crackdown on corruption and talks with the Taliban?
In limbo, just like this summer’s parliamentary elections.
UPDATE: Despite British and Canadian officials expressing concern about Karzai's assault on the ECC's independence, the Obama administration has stunned its allies with a warm response to the Afghan president's scheme.
"We are supportive of the Afghan government stepping up and assuming its responsibilities for its own process," State department spokesman Philip Crowley told journalists Wednesday.
He continued: "We obviously recognize that it will be very important for the government to be transparent and credible and name appropriate officials to these posts that will give the Afghan people confidence that the future elections will be free, fair and legitimate."
We're told that Crowley said this with a straight face - despite Afghanistan being second last in the worldwide transparency ratings of 180 national governments, and last year's Afghan presidential elections having been conclusively shown as anything but free, fair and legitimate, with Karzai the overwhelming beneficiary of vote fraud.
"Watch, he (Karzai) will get away with it, with the Americans' help," says one disenchanted Afghan election worker. "It's a betrayal of the Afghan people. This is the end of all our dreams for a new Afghanistan."