KABUL (AP) – A main political rival accused Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Friday of undermining the war against the Taliban by blaming the international community for the controversy over last year’s disputed election.
Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister who dropped out of a presidential runoff against Karzai saying it would be a repetition of the fraud-marred election, also said he was worried about the president’s recent behavior, describing it as erratic.
On Thursday, Karzai accused the U.N. and international community of trying to rig last August’s presidential election in order to either deny him a second term or tarnish his victory.
Afghanistan’s election commission declared Karzai the winner of the Aug. 20 balloting, but an U.N.-supported independent complaints commission threw out nearly a third of his votes, forcing him into a runoff with Abdullah. It took a flurry of high-level diplomatic visits and intense international pressure for Karzai to accept that he had not won the election in the first round.
Abdullah accused Karzai of undermining the morale of Afghan forces battling the stubborn Taliban insurgency by implying that Afghanistan was still a country under foreign occupation.
“It was extraordinary … this is treason to the national interest,” he said. “What is the message to the thousands of soldiers and national police defending the country?”
“(Karzai) thinks that by taking that message he has delivered a populist stance, an anti-foreigner message,” Abdullah told reporters. “He tried to blur the line between national resistance to terrorism and the insurgency.”
Karzai’s comments, delivered Thursday to employees of the state election commission, came after parliament rejected his bid to expand his control over the country’s electoral institutions. The remarks were seen as sharpening the power struggle with an increasingly independent-minded parliament over whether foreigners will help oversee parliamentary balloting scheduled for September.
During his speech Thursday, Karzai acknowledged there had been “vast fraud” in the August vote, which returned him to office for a second, five-year term. But he blamed the fraud on the U.N. and other foreign organizations.
Turning the accusation back on Karzai, Abdullah said it was clear the president and his supporters were the ones responsible. Two good things came out of Karzai’s comments, he said.
“First, the admission that there was massive fraud; and second, the admission that his rule was in fact illegitimate,” Abdullah said.