US Concern After Hamid Karzai Blames West For Afghanistan Election FraudApril 3, 2010
President says governments trying to weaken him and that foreign troops risk becoming occupation force
The Obama administration said today it was “troubled” by accusations from the Afghan president that the west was trying to weaken him and that foreign troops risked becoming an occupation force.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said there was concern over a speech yesterday in which Hamid Karzai sought to turn charges that he stole Afghanistan’s presidential election on their head by blaming what he termed “vast fraud” in last August’s poll on an attempt by the UN and international organisations to deny him victory or discredit his win.
Karzai also said that the 120,000-strong Nato-led foreign forces fighting the Taliban increasingly risked being seen as occupiers – a comment that led his main political opponent to accuse him of treason.
Gibb said that the Afghan president’s remarks “are troubling … a real and genuine concern. We are seeking clarification from President Karzai.”
Karzai’s comments, broadcast on Afghan television, came after parliament rejected his bid to take direct control of Afghanistan’s electoral institutions. But the remarks reflect a growing rift with the west, particularly in the wake of Barack Obama’s visit to Kabul last weekend during which he rebuked the Afghan leader for failing to clean up corruption or organise more transparent elections.
“There is no doubt that the fraud was very widespread, but this fraud was not committed by Afghans, it was committed by foreigners,” said Karzai in yesterday’s televised speech.
The Afghan president also accused foreign governments of trying to influence parliamentary elections later this year. UN and western officials have been pressing for greater protections against fraud.
“They want parliament to be weakened and battered and for me to be an ineffective president, and for parliament to be ineffective,” said Karzai.
He also questioned the role of foreign forces in Afghanistan, saying: “In this situation there is a thin curtain between invasion and co-operation assistance.” If coalition troops came to be seen as occupiers, the Taliban-led insurgency “could become a national resistance”, Karzai added.
Abdullah Abdullah, who lost to him in the disputed election, accused Karzai of undermining the morale of the Afghan military by implying that the country was under foreign occupation. “It was extraordinary … this is treason to the national interest. What is the message to the thousands of soldiers and national police defending the country?” he said.
“[Karzai] thinks that by taking that message he has delivered a populist stance, an anti-foreigner message … he tried to blur the line between national resistance to terrorism and the insurgency.”
Abdullah called the Afghan president’s recent behaviour erratic and said he is concerned. “As a former colleague and doctor, I think this is beyond a normal attitude,” he said.