Afghanistan’s president issued a decree Wednesday stating that the country’s courts do not have the power to alter election results, appearing to bow to pressure to resolve an impasse over the parliament’s legitimacy that threatened to create a constitutional crisis.
The Afghan parliament has been in limbo after a special court in June called for the removal of 62 sitting lawmakers, saying they won their seats through fraud. The dispute hamstrung the country’s already tumultuous political system, with the courts, the president and legislature all claiming the right to make the final ruling about last year’s messy elections.
Afghanistan’s September 2010 ballot was plagued by irregularities and voter intimidation. Fraud monitors discarded 1.3 million ballots — nearly a quarter of the total — for fraud, and disqualified 19 winning candidates for cheating.
In his decree, President Hamid Karzai said that the Independent Election Commission — which organized the vote — holds the final authority on deciding vote counts and results. Presidential spokesman Siamak Herawi said the commission will evaluate the court’s findings and it will decide if any candidates should be removed.
“Based on the national interest of the country, Karzai has said that all those documents and evidence will be passed to the IEC. He gave the IEC authority to make a final decision,” Herawi said.
Many international observers have claimed that Karzai was using the court to pack the legislature with his supporters, and the country’s Western allies have argued that the court’s call for the lawmakers’ removal was unconstitutional. Under Afghan law, only the IEC and a vote-fraud monitoring body are empowered to change the results.
Full Article: Afghan president: Courts cannot change election.