Afghan parliament rejects bill and clip Karzai's wings

Afghanistan's parliament yesterday rejected a bid by President Hamid Karzai to tighten his control over a key electoral watchdog body, after concerns he was reneging on promises to clean up corruption.

The lower house voted down a proposal to allow Mr Karzai to appoint three of the five members of the Electoral Complaints Commission which monitors election fraud and had stripped the President of nearly a third of his votes in last year's election. Mr Karzai was declared the victor after his challenger dropped out of a run-off.

In February, Karzai signed a decree – when parliament was not in session – allowing him to appoint all five members of the body. Previously, the United Nations appointed the chairman and two other commissioners. The Afghan human rights commission and the Supreme Court named one commissioner each.

Afghan law gives parliament the option of reviewing such decrees after it reconvenes. Yesterday's rejection follows concerns that Mr Karzai is backing away from commitments to clean up cronyism and voting fraud – believed to be one of the reasons many Afghans have turned to the Taliban.