Karzai rules out sacking corrupt Afghan ministers

President promises to tackle criminality during second term – as he takes office flanked by drug-trafficking and war crimes suspects

Hamid Karzai began his new presidency yesterday with a pledge to reach out to opponents and tackle the corrosive corruption which has deeply tainted his government and led to widespread international condemnation. But he appeared to rule out sacking ministers and officials accused of corruption and did not say how he would tackle the systemic malpractice and criminality which has undermined governance during his tenure.

The US and other Western countries are demanding root and branch reforms and a major drive against corruption in return for additional troops and vast amounts of money.

Mr Karzai, making his victory speech, was flanked by his two running mates, Marshal Muhammed Qasim, accused of drug trafficking by American officials, and Karim Khalili, who was accused in a recent human rights report of war crimes.

Asked whether he was prepared to boot out public figures who have abused the law Mr Karzai responded: "These problems cannot be solved by changing high-ranking officials." He acknowledged, however, that Afghanistan has a "bad name" for corruption and pledged: "We will do our best through all possible means to eliminate that dark stain from our clothes."

Mr Karzai was anointed President on Monday afternoon by an election commission he had appointed which also cancelled a second round of voting due next weekend. The run-off, with rival Abdullah Abdullah, was ordered after Mr Karzai was stripped of a million of his votes from the first round for massive ballot stuffing.

Dr Abdullah, who dropped out of the run-off at the weekend, was last night said to be considering whether to challenge Mr Karzai's reappointment in the supreme court. His supporters had been pressing for an interim government with new elections to be held in the spring.

There is little chance of the court overturning the decision and there is no appetite for the electoral process to continue either among the majority of Afghans or the international community. The US and its allies will thus have to keep propping up a ruler they have repeatedly and publicly criticised.

Barack Obama, who is deciding whether to send up to 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, phoned Mr Karzai to congratulate him on retaining power, but stressed that he must take a tougher stance against corruption and promote better government. In response to reassurances from Mr Karzai, the US President responded that the "proof is not going to be in words. It's going to be in deeds".

President Obama said he wanted the Afghan President "to move boldly and forcefully forward and take advantage of the international community's interest in his country to initiate reforms internally. That has to be one of our highest priorities." Gordon Brown meanwhile said: "What we want to see is a corruption-free government, an inclusive government."

Mr Karzai pledged to work for all Afghans. "No one will see themselves distanced in this process. All of us will be included as part of Afghanistan's government." He also urged insurgent fighters to re-enter civic society, saying: "We call on our Taliban brothers to come home and embrace their land."

But the Taliban issued a statement mocking the outcome and claiming their own victory in stopping the second round of voting. "What is astonishing is two weeks ago they were arguing that the puppet president Hamid Karzai was involved in electoral fraud... but now he is elected as President based on those same fraudulent votes, Washington and London immediately send their congratulations."

In the streets of Kabul, many people said they wanted to leave the past behind. "If the corrupt officials who have been sucking our blood for long years are dismissed and punished publicly, we will hope for a better future, otherwise the next five years will go in vain," said a shopkeeper, Ghafoor Ahmadi.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvSpoiler alert: It has been talked about for months
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - West Midlands - OTE £35,000

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - Yorkshire & Humber - OTE £35,000

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Embedded Linux Engineer - C / C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A well funded smart home compan...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - Python / Node / C / Go

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: *Flexible working in a relaxed ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?