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Karzai’s Power Grab

Today’s WaPoo had this bit of news buried deep…

The Afghan government has drafted proposed changes to election law that would remove all three foreign members from the body that investigates fraud, limit the number of women in parliament and establish a host of new qualifications for candidates to run for office.

The thorough rewriting of the 2005 election law has raised the prospect that President Hamid Karzai intends to respond to the chaos of last year’s presidential election by imposing changes that would give the government more control over the commission that documented the scope of electoral fraud. The five-member Electoral Complaints Commission — including three international members appointed by the U.N. envoy to Afghanistan — calculated that Karzai lost his first-round majority last August by the amount of vote-rigging and would need to face a run-off.

Huh…? I’m sure that will clean up the whole election process! Karzai couldn’t possibly be more blatant in his power grab…

"People are very worried about this law," said one foreign official in Kabul who works on election issues. "It was so substantially rewritten, and nobody really knew about it." […]

According to the draft proposal, the new Electoral Complaints Commission would have no foreign members appointed by the United Nations. One member would be chosen by the Supreme Court, two by the parliament, one by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and one by the president.

In addition to changing the commission, the draft proposes limiting the number of female members in the lower house of the legislature, known as the Wolesi Jirga, to a maximum of two per each of the country’s 34 provinces. The current law stipulates that the number of female representatives must be at least twice the number of provinces. While there is some dispute about the interpretation of this amendment, one international official in Kabul said it would "substantially reduce" the number of women in the 249-member lower house of parliament.

The draft also proposes a series of requirements to run for president, including having a bachelor’s degree and a "good reputation" and being a "wise and brave person" who has not been "affected by psychic diseases." Presidential candidates would also have to deposit 5 million afghanis (about $100,000), which would be refunded only if the candidate wins or receives at least 20 percent of the vote. Of the 32 presidential candidates listed by the election commission in the final results of last year’s vote, only two cleared this threshold.

"It seems quite discriminatory," Hakim said. "It would be a good opportunity for warlords and drug lords and mafia to be the most likely candidates."

Another tin pot despot being propped up by our national blood and treasure. We never learn! I fervently hope there will be significant blowback by Gates, Clinton, Nato, etc. against this brazen power grab!

Any thoughts…?

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