In a startling reversal on Wednesday, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan annulled a special court that he had set up to review the results of the 2010 parliamentary elections.
The decision, which came after months of pressure from Western diplomats, reaffirms the authority of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission, which finalized the results of the election last November only to have its authority undermined by the creation of the special court. It was also an acknowledgement that President Karzai’s effort to change the makeup of the new parliament through the court was hurting his administration more than helping it.
Under the decree issued by Mr. Karzai’s office on Wednesday, the election commission will have authority to make final decisions in all cases where election results are in dispute. Some members of the parliament elected last year could still be disqualified once the commission completes its review, but the number of seats remaining in doubt would be few, compared with the more sweeping changes proposed by the special court, according to commission officials.
Members of Parliament almost immediately decried the possibility of even a few changes to their membership.
The special court, which was created under the auspices of the Afghan Supreme Court with its members appointed by Mr. Karzai, ruled in June that 62 candidates for the 249-seat lower house of Parliament who had been deemed losers or disqualified by the commission should be reinstated and declared elected. That decision created a constitutional crisis.
The decree issued on Wednesday appeared to take an important step toward ending doubts over the legitimacy of the lower house, knonwn as the Wolosi Jirga. It reinforced the stature of the Independent Election Commission, which has been battered by charges of corruption from the attorney general and criticism from candidates whom it ruled against.