Afghan parliament protesters block centre of Kabul


Hundreds of supporters of would-be Afghan lawmakers, declared winners by a court but losers by an election body, blocked a main junction in downtown Kab with a makeshift camp, the latest scene in a long-running political crisis.

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and parliament have been locked for nearly a year in disputes over results of a fraud-marred parliamentary election last September, which has kept the 249-member assembly hardly functioning.

A special poll tribunal appointed by Karzai had ordered 62 parliamentarians be replaced on grounds of election irregularities, but Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) only unseated nine lawmakers, Reuters rpeorts.

That decision satisfied neither the remaining 53, nor many of the sitting members of parliament, who although they were not affected by the changes, saw them as evidence of presidential meddling in parliamentary affairs.

Up to 600 supporters of the group of 53 candidates, who had started their demonstration in provinces around Kabul said they would protest regularly at the junction near the presidential palace until they got justice.
“If the president continues his carelessness about our candidates, he will face the same thing Gaddafi faces right now,” said 60 year-old Mohammad Jalal, referring to ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The protesters want the President to force the IEC to recognise all the candidates supported by the special tribunal, and resign if he cannot.

Judging by their chants of: “death to the IEC, death to Karzai, death to the ministers, death to America, Britain and their allies” the group suspects a wide-ranging political conspiracy designed to hold their preferred candidate back.

The group plans to stay in their tent, by the side of the main road, and organise demonstrations once a week.