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    Karzai again opposes foreigners’ inclusion in ECC

    KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai on Sunday reiterated his opposition to the inclusion of foreigners in the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), saying it was in conflict with Afghanistan's sovereignty.  Karzai told a joint news conference with the visiting Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti that in no sovereign nation do foreigners sit on electoral bodies or other government institutions.

    "Like other countries, Afghanistan should hold its own elections and pursue its own political, economic and social life," Karzaid said.  "There is no need for (foreigners in ECC) and national sovreignty doesn't permit it." 

    On October 18, the president said he viewed foreign membership of ECC at odds with national sovereignty but that his administration had no objection to the participation of international observers in the electoral process. 

    “We have the experience of 2009 presidential and 2010 parliamentary elections. In addition to that, Afghanistan a sovereign country with its own constitution,” Karzai said Sunday in response to a query.

    Karzai said he had discussed with the visiting premier a wide range of issues, including security transition and the 2014 presidential and provincial council elections. He hailed Italy as a friendly country, which has given Afghanistan $500 million in assistance over the past 10 years.

    The elections would open a new chapter in Afghanistan’s democratic history, Monti remarked, saying that he had conferred with Karzai on the overall situation in the country and the region at large.

    With 3,500 of its soldiers stationed in in western Herat province within the International Security Assistance Force framework, Italy had constructed nearly 80 school buildings in different parts of Afghanistan, Monti added.

    The strategic cooperation pact, signed between the two countries in January, will help to step up Afghanistan’s economic development, he hoped.

    “We are looking forward to the elections in 2014, which will be a year of change, not a year of retrogression. Italy will continue to assist Afghanistan,” he said.

    Apart from Karzai, the Meshrano Jirga -- upper house of parliament -- has also voiced its opposition to the inclusion of two foreigners in the (ECC).

    On Sept. 24, the Wolesi Jirga -- lower house -- approved a draft law on ECC composition, duties and powers. Under the draft law, the president would approve the appointment of five of the eight experts recommended for the commission’s membership.

    Referred to the Senate Legislative Commission for approval, the draft law was presented for a house debate today. A lawmaker from Helmand blamed foreign members of the ECC for fraud in the electoral process.

    Under Article 100 of the constitution, if the decision of one house is rejected by another, a joint committee is formed to resolve the disagreement. The committee ruling is enforced after the president’s approval.

    In case the committee fails to resolve the disagreement, the issue is referred back to the Wolesi Jirga, which can resolve it in the next session by a majority vote.

    myn/mud/mxf

     



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