New Afghan parliament to open on Jan 23: Minister

Afghan Prez plans to open his war-battered nation`s parliament on Jan 23,one of his ministers said.

Kabul: Afghan President Hamid Karzai plans
to open his war-battered nation`s parliament on January 23,
one of his ministers said today, after months of uncertainty
due to disputes over election results.

"The president will inaugurate the parliament on January
23," Homayoun Azimi, Karzai`s minister for parliamentary
affairs, said.

Azizi did not give details but a Karzai spokesman, Siamak
Herawi, separately said that the inauguration date,
initially pencilled in for January 20, had been delayed for
three days due to a foreign visit by Karzai.

If inaugurated, the new Afghan parliament will start work
amid major disputes over the election results which are being
examined by a special tribunal set up last month by Karzai.

Azizi indicated that the tribunal would not conclude its
work before the inauguration.

"The examination of all files will be time-consuming and
it may take a bit longer," he said.

"Anyone, whether a minister or an MP or even a senior
figure, who commits a crime will be punished anywhere and anytime," he said.

Afghans voted in their second post-Taliban parliamentary
election on September 18. The attorney general`s office later
called for the annulment of the results of the vote, saying it
featured massive fraud.

Electoral authorities disqualified 24 early winners,
including allies of the president, and threw out around a
quarter of about five million votes cast.

Karzai has so far refused to endorse the election
outcome, which appears to have sapped his traditional Pashtun
power base.


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