U.S. Approves Karzai’s Take-Over of Election Group

Responding to yesterday’s news that Afghan President Hamid Karzai, himself accused of massive election fraud, has taken full control over Afghanistan’s election watchdog group, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), the U.S. Department of State has said that the legislation can be seen as a vital step towards Afghanistan taking responsibility for it’s own governance.

However, the British and Canadian leaders are not so ‘cautiously’ optimistic as their American counterparts. In fact, David Miliband has stated outright that no one should expect a fair and transparent parliamentary election in Afghanistan next Fall.

Peter Galbraith, the U.N. official who resigned based on the international handling of the nation’s second Presidential election, stands firmly against allowing Karzai to appoint all five members of the ECC:

We are supportive of the Afghan government stepping up and assuming its responsibilities for its own (election) process,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters, giving cautious backing to the move.

The credibility of future Afghan elections is vitally important to giving the Afghan government legitimacy in the eyes of its people,” Crowley said.

He cautioned though that it was important that Afghan leaders “name appropriate officials to these posts that will give the Afghan people confidence that the future elections will be free, fair and legitimate.”

British Response:

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said however he had grave doubts about the upcoming September polls, which have already been delayed from May.

I dont think you will find anyone who will say that they expect the next elections in Afghanistan to be free and fair,” Miliband told British lawmakers.

What we need is to ensure that the elections provide a credible representation of the views of the people.”

US gives Karzai cautious support on new election law [AFP]