Karzai Staunchly Defends Afghan Election Balloting

image AP

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday acknowledged irregularities in the Aug. 20 presidential election while arguing it was "good and fair and worthy of praise, not scorn."

Interviewed from Kabul on ABC's "Good Morning America," Karzai declined to insert himself publicly in the current Obama administration internal debate over possible changes in war policy. But he did say he's "fully behind" U.S. commanding Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who reportedly has told President Barack Obama that as many as 40,000 additional forces are needed.

"I have seen Gen. McChrystal's report," Karzai said. "I am not a military expert. ... What I'm concerned about is the protection of the Afghan people."

Questioned repeatedly about allegations of widespread corruption in the Aug. 20 election, Karzai said international criticism of the balloting "makes me angry." But he conceded "irregularities" at the same time. The international community should not turn the election into "the nightmare of the Afghan people," Karzai told ABC's Diane Sawyer.

Preliminary results show that Karzai won with 54.6 percent. A five-member United Nations-backed panel is investigating charges of corruption in the election, and its decision on how many votes to throw out will determine whether Karzai wins outright or if a runoff with top challenger Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, will be required.

New charges have flared this week amid the resignation of a chief fraud investigator. One of the two Afghans on the Electoral Complaints Commission, Maulavi Mustafa Barakzai, resigned Monday because, he said, the three foreigners on the commission were "making all the decisions on their own."

A deputy campaign manager for Abdullah called the resignation a move by the Karzai campaign to call into question the validity of the fraud investigations.

"Barakzai's resignation has direct connection to Karzai. It was Karzai's idea," Saleh Mohammad Registani said. "Karzai is trying to bring the work of the ECC into question." He said Barakzai was widely considered to be biased toward Karzai.

Representatives for Karzai could not immediately be reached for comment.

Of the election in general, Karzai said that some statements criticizing the balloting and vote count were "totally fabricated."

"There were instances of fraud, no doubt. There were irregularities," he said. "But the election as a whole was good and free and democratic."

Karzai said Barakzai's resignation has cast doubt on the functioning of the commission and said officials should "do everything now to remove those suspicions and to remove any of the stigmas and to prove that it is impartial and not dictated from outside from foreign enemies."

"As you have debates in America, you have problems in America, as you have corruption in America, we have them too in Afghanistan," he said, "but on a much larger scale because our country is underdeveloped and devastated by years of war."

Asked if he was suggesting the U.S. election system is insecure, Karzai replied, "No, I'm talking of the existence of issues in governments and the way to handle them."

"Afghanistan has its separate problems and we have to handle them as Afghanistan finds it feasible," he said. "This country was completely destroyed ... Today, we are talking about fighting corruption in Afghanistan, improved legal standards ... You see the glass half empty or half full. I see it as half full. Others see it as half empty."

  • CBSNews

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.