July 6, 2011 / 1:46 PM / 8 years ago

Karzai mulls election body plan to solve poll dispute

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan’s election body has presented a 6-point plan to President Hamid Karzai in a bid to end a standoff between the incumbent and the country’s lower house that has thrown the country into political crisis, his palace said on Wednesday.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai gives a speech regarding the U.S. plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, in Kabul June 23, 2011. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Last month, a special poll court set up by Karzai threw out results in about a quarter of the seats in the assembly, raising fears of a showdown between the president and parliament.

The special court, established by a presidential decree after fraud-marred parliamentary elections last year, ordered that 62 lawmakers elected in the September poll vacate their seats in the 249-seat parliament.

But most lawmakers, including many who do not face being unseated, reject the court and its ruling as unconstitutional and illegal. Many Afghan officials and international observers agree, and critics say the court was set up to further Karzai’s political agenda and silence opposition.

In a statement, Karzai’s palace said the president had met a number of lawmakers on Wednesday and he had told them the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) had presented a 6-clause plan to “move away from the parliamentary crisis.”

Karzai has summoned members of the high council of the supreme court, members of the commission for implementing the constitution and the Justice Minister, to discuss the plan on Thursday and take a decision, his palace said.

The statement did not give any details about the plan and the IEC were not immediately available for comment.

The deepening political uncertainty comes at a worrying time for Afghanistan, with violence at record levels and NATO-led forces preparing to hand over security to Afghans in several areas, beginning a process that will end with all foreign combat troops leaving by the end of 2014.

The court’s ruling prompted angry lawmakers to write to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asking the international community for help overturning the decision.

But the Afghan government has warned the international community against interfering, saying the poll dispute was an internal matter. All of Afghanistan’s elections since 2001 have been funded by the international community.

Karzai, re-elected after a fraud-tainted presidential election in 2009, has often been accused of treating parliament as a rubber stamp body.

Reporting by Hamid Shalizi and Jonathon Burch; Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Sugita Katyal

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