Karzai pulls a Dumbya!

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Karzai Says Afghan Assembly Elects Him President

Tue Jun 11,12:41 PM ET

By Sayed Salahuddin

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan ( news - web sites)'s interim leader Hamid Karzai said Tuesday he was the country's new president after a tribal council that will determine the next government ended its first day the way it began, in confusion and acrimony.

"It is finished. The assembly has voted for me," Karzai told Reuters.

But some of the 1,550 delegates streaming out of the German beer hall tent that is housing the Loya Jirga expressed anger that Karzai was anointed without a vote, with no consultation and no other candidates allowed to speak.

"It was a total mockery," said one delegate who did not want to be identified.

"Zahir Shah's support for Karzai does not mean that he has won. It was not a democratic and open atmosphere. Two women who wanted to speak were not allowed to do so."

The week-long Loya Jirga, tasked with choosing a new government to run the war-torn country for the next 18 months, had been delayed for a day because of bickering among the myriad tribal factions over the role of former King Mohammad Zahir Shah.

The former king, who is 87 and frail officially opened the Loya Jirga by giving Karzai his blessing, after renouncing on Monday any role for himself in a future government.

"I am ready to help the people, and Hamid Karzai is my choice of candidate," Zahir Shah said in comments aimed at showing unity to a divided assembly.

"I advise delegates to take into consideration the high interests of the people," he said, adding national unity and democracy based on Islamic values were his ideals.


Interior Minister Yunis Qanuni offered his resignation, which appeared to be aimed at soothing political tensions and sources said Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah was also likely to quit. Both of them are Tajiks from the north.

Key support for Karzai also came from former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, also a Tajik, who withdrew his candidacy in favor of the interim leader.

Karzai, wearing a turban and traditional dress and switching between Pashto and Persian, said he wanted to rid the country of warlordism and improve education.

He said he wanted several roles for Zahir Shah as a father to the country, such as participating in national and religious functions, opening the National Council (parliament) and conferring medals and that he would live at his residence inside the presidential palace.

The Loya Jirga, or Grand Council, is the first in nearly a quarter century and carries on a consultative system that the proudly independent Afghans have used for more than 1,000 years to settle affairs of the nation.

From Tuesday till June 16 delegates from the main regions, tribes, minorities and pressure groups will be consulted to reach a collective decision.

A key question has been whether the Loya Jirga will confirm the power-sharing arrangement between Karzai and the ethnic minority Tajiks and Uzbeks of the Northern Alliance that forms the core of the interim government.

But many supporters of the former king feel they did not have a chance to air their views and saw a U.S. hand in Zahir Shah's decision Monday not to run for president, an announcement some delegates said tainted the Loya Jirga even before it began.


"The king's supporters were really upset and disappointed to hear the news and angered that the decision as to who will rule Afghanistan was taken outside the tent," delegate Mohammad Gulab Mangal, a businessman from eastern Paktia province, said earlier Tuesday.

Some of his supporters said they believed the United States -- which wanted the current leadership, led by western-educated Karzai and dominated by warlords who played a key role in toppling the Taliban last year -- to stay on.

Zahir Shah, ousted in a bloodless coup in 1973 after 40 years on the throne, returned to Afghanistan from self-exile in Rome in April with the avowed purpose of uniting his people.

The former king is seen by many as the father of the nation and a unifying figure among traditionally warring tribes.

Pashtuns have complained of being discriminated against and sidelined by northern alliance figures and there's a long history of bloodbaths among the communities.

The king's announcement that he was not a candidate to run the country came hours after a U.S. envoy said the king was stepping aside, prompting speculation the deal was made under pressure from the United States.

The United States has been drawn into Afghan affairs since launching air attacks in October against the former Taliban regime and the al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden ( news - web sites), its prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

The hardline Taliban were swept from power late last year, paving the way for a U.N.-sponsored Bonn accord that brought in Karzai, once an American resident.

"Everyone in the Northern alliance is for Hamid Karzai" and Rabbani had formally given up his candidacy, said Rahidin, a Loya Jirga candidate from Kabul.

Rabbani, 62, a white-bearded professor of Islamic law, has held and lost power several times in his career. He is firmly linked to a bloody period of rule by guerrilla factions that drove out Soviet forces in 1989 and in 1992 toppled the communist government they left behind.

-- (claims victory @ without. the votes), June 11, 2002


Karzai Made Mistake Claiming Presidency, Spokesman Says

Tue Jun 11, 1:21 PM ET

KABUL, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Afghanistan ( news - web sites)'s interim leader, Hamid Karzai, made a mistake in claiming the presidency after the opening session of the Loya Jirga tribal assembly, a spokesman said Tuesday.

"The situation was confusing for us," Karzai spokesman Yousuf Nooristani told Reuters. "Karzai thought the audience applause meant they were voting for him. Later he found out it was a mistake."

Former king Mohammad Zahir Shah announced at the opening of the Loya Jirga, a traditional Afghan debating chamber that goes back centuries, that he did not want to restore the monarchy and that he was putting his support behind Karzai.

Asked by Reuters what he thought about the former king's support, Karzai said: "It is finished. The assembly has voted for me."

Nooristani said voting would start Wednesday. "There's a strong possibility that Karzai will win."

-- Oh yeah, LOL! (he just "made a mistake" @ (hoping. no one would notice)), June 11, 2002.

Iíll give you 100-1 that Karzai wonít have to listen to a bunch of raving niggers and Cubans, crying foul over some confusing chads.

-- I (AM@the.king!), June 11, 2002.

LOL!! It really isn't too surprising that Dumbya would instruct him to try to pull a fast one, since he "appointed" Karzai to lead Afghanistan in order to pave the way for his friends at Unocal.

-- (one corrupt dictator @ appoints. another), June 11, 2002.

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