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Karzai opening of Afghan parliament 'in question'

The opening of a new parliament remains unlikely if MPs fail to meet demands

AFP , Sunday 23 Jan 2011
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A plan for Afghan President Hamid Karzai to open a new parliament this week looked in question Sunday as an official source said his attendance was "conditional" and fresh talks with lawmakers were announced.

The source, speaking anonymously, told AFP that Karzai's attendance Wednesday depended on lawmakers accepting the authority of a Supreme Court special tribunal on electoral fraud in September's parlimentary polls.

"What's being said about the opening of the parliament on Wednesday, that's conditional," the source said.

Asked if Karzai will open the parliament on Wednesday if the MPs fail to accept his demand, the source added: "I don't think so."

Meanwhile, lawmaker Molawi Rahman Rahmani said a fresh round of talks between Karzai and MPs was set to be held Monday, adding that most lawmakers wanted to see the special tribunal abolished.

"The same 38 people (who held talks with the president Saturday) are going to talk to Karzai regarding the abolishing of the special tribunal," he said.

"We are going to inaugurate the parliament on Wednesday" with or without Karzai, Rahmani added, while saying he thought that Karzai would "probably" be there.

Rebel Afghan lawmakers met Sunday to thrash out their position on a deal they say their representatives struck with Karzai late Saturday to inaugurate the war-torn country's parliament.

The talks came after Karzai said he was delaying the opening, originally due Sunday, for a month.

The lawmakers were debating whether to agree that Afghanistan's Supreme Court rather than the tribunal can rule on electoral fraud.

Many winning candidates reject the authority of the special tribunal, branding it unconstitutional. It is thought that over 200 of 249 lawmakers want the tribunal abolished.

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