ShareThis Page
U.S./World

U.N. races to save deal on Afghan parliament

| Monday, Jan. 24, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The United Nations representative in Afghanistan held an unscheduled meeting with Afghan lawmakers holed up in an upscale hotel here yesterday in an effort to rescue a deal that Western diplomats say is critical to instilling democracy in this war-torn country.

U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura's desperate dash to the Intercontinental Hotel yesterday evening underscored just how high the stakes are for the international community in resolving the conflict between members of parliament and President Hamid Karzai over when the parliamentary session will convene.

"It's a very critical moment," said de Mistura as he emerged from closed-door talks with lawmakers. "The hope of the international community is for a speedy agreement."

Legislators on Saturday thought they had a deal with Karzai that would allow the new parliament to begin work Wednesday. Karzai had wanted the start of the session, which had been scheduled for Sunday, delayed for a month while disputed results from September's election are resolved.

But by yesterday morning the deal to allow parliament to start meeting appeared to be crumbling.

Instilling democracy is a key part of the U.S.-led effort to stabilize Afghanistan, so foreign troops can pull out.

The United Nations, speaking on behalf of the United States and the other main Western players in Afghanistan, on Friday had expressed "deep concern" that Karzai wanted to delay the start of parliament. Karzai is seen as increasingly autocratic and often at odds with his Western backers.

"Afghanistan's peaceful future lies in the building up of robust democratic institutions based on the rule of law and clear respect for the separation of powers," the United Nations said.

The new parliament would include many Karzai critics who won election in September. His opponents say his effort to delay the session is tied to his hopes of replacing his sharpest opposition with more pliable candidates through a special election court that the president created to hear the allegations of fraud.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me