Perhaps inspired by the visit to Kabul, this past week, by neighboring potentate and fellow ballot-rigger Ahmad Ahmadinejad, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has unveiled a ploy designed to blunt global outrage over his unilateral rewriting of Afghanistan’s elections law.
Karzai’s spokesman announced Saturday that his boss will include two foreigners among his five appointees to the Electoral Complaints Commission, which will oversee this September’s parliamentary elections.
The statement, though, is most remarkable for what it doesn’t address.
There is no word on the stated plans of Karzai’s hand-picked nominee for chairman of the ECC to fire any and all Afghan nationals who worked faithfully to investigate the massive fraud in last year’s presidential election. The unmistakeable message: only Karzai cronies need apply to oversee this year’s vote.
Grant Kippen, who chaired the ECC in the 2009 election, tells Skyreporter: “While the statement today by presidential spokesman Waheed Omar shows some recognition of the importance of having an independent ECC, the fact of the matter is that the President will still be making all the appointments himself, which was a criticism made about the appointment of the IEC last year.”
The IEC, the Karzai regime’s Independent Elections Commission, proved to be anything but independent. IEC officials campaigned openly against the complaint commission’s investigation of voting abuses, which revealed widespread ballot-stuffing by Karzai’s supporters.
Kippen continues: “The best step that could be taken by the president to address the concerns of voters and candidates about the credibility and legitimacy of the upcoming parliamentary election process is to undertake a thorough, objective and public assessment of the problems that occurred in 2009 and take the necessary corrective actions to ensure the problems don't happen again.”
In both the 2005 and 2009 elections, the ECC’s rules required that at least one Afghan commissioner had to be in voluntary agreement with any finding, to ensure that the three international members could not use their majority to overrule the two Afghans on the panel. Karzai’s statement doesn’t indicate whether this will apply with Afghan commissioners now in the majority.
Equally troublesome is Karzai’s lack of movement on appointments to the Provincial Electoral Complaints Commission, over which his recent decree grants him exclusive control.
No doubt the embattled president, as well as the more faint-hearted of his international sponsors, will try to spin Saturday's illusory changes into a full scale “reversal” of his earlier power grab.
But even a cursory look beneath the surface confirms the worst suspicions of Karzai’s critics. All the biggest problems with last year’s fraudulent election have been totally ignored.
That’s a failing Karzai & Company will soon take to the ballot box. And, as ever, to their bank accounts in Dubai.