New bloc vows real counterweight to Karzai
Politicians and political workers from across the country held a gathering to formally launch the new bloc named the National Coalition of Afghanistan, to be headed by Karzai's principal rival, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.
The gathering was attended by leaders of ethnic groups and political workers and sitting lawmakers.
Speakers said the bloc had secured enough support, including from a number of MPs, to provide a real counterweight to Karzai.
The coalition head, Abdullah Abdullah, who was Karzai's main rival in the 2009 vote, said the government had done little to rebuild the economy, erect infrastructure and bring people out of endemic poverty during Karzai's 10 years running the country.
He said thousands of lives and billions of dollars had failed to secure Afghanistan and only fragile gains had been made in education and women's rights, falling well short of promises made a decade ago.
Abdullah said he believed in a parliamentary form of government and the current presidential system must be replaced with that system.
He also said they had no enmity with any one leading the country, but the rulers had lost their way.
The Tajik leader cited lack of confidence and a yawning gap between the people and the government as main problems of the time. He said Afghanistan's people were supporting the government but the gap between people and the government was growing.
The bloc called for a more decentralised political system, with proper checks and balances, so the fate of the country is not dictated by a political elite. It also questioned Karzai's desire to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban.
Other speakers called the present government a failure.
Head of Hazb-i-Naween Party and member of the new coalition, Mohammad Yunus Qanoni, said the idea of replacing the presidential system with a parliamentary system was one of their main goals.
One speaker accused Karzai of luring opposition members with money or government positions to sustain their support.
The bloc also accused Karzai of planning to change the constitution to be able to run for a third term in power when his current five-year term ends, an allegation the president has so far denied.
"Ten years for a president of a country is enough time. When will you stop corruption, stop the mafia?" said Humayun Shah Asifi, a 2004 presidential candidate.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.