At inauguration, Karzai vows to stamp out corruption
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Thursday, November 19, 2009 9:47AM EST
In his inauguration speech Thursday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai promised to stamp our corruption and launch a new era of accountability in Afghan politics.
Karzai faces intense international pressure to clean up the government, with future support from Western partners likely depending on his ability to do so, said CTV's Janis Mackey Frayer.
"He gave the speech the foreign audience expected to hear and that some say they effectively wrote for him, announcing a very wide and deep crack-down on corruption," she told CTV's Canada AM, reporting from Kabul.
The head of the Supreme Court swore Karzai in to a second five-year term during the ceremony attended by about 800 Afghan and foreign dignitaries from more than 40 countries.
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and British Foreign Minister David Miliband were all in attendance.
Karzai has his work cut out for him if he is to accomplish the goals, Mackey Frayer said. Even the process that saw him re-elected was marred by corruption, accusations of vote-rigging and violence.
In the end, Karzai emerged as the winner when his main rival Abdullah Abdullah pulled out of the race in protest over the flawed process.
"It is a tricky calculation for Karzai. There are allegations of corruption at the highest levels, the lowest level and everywhere in between," Mackey Frayer told CTV's Canada AM.
"What Karzai is being asked to do is clean up the government but some of the figures in this government are the very people who helped get him elected."
Cannon called Karzai's inauguration to a second term an important step for Afghan democracy and said Canada strongly supports his government.
"We have to give President Karzai the opportunity to be able to do exactly what he has stated he wants to do," Cannon said in an interview with CTV. "He has made the political commitment. He has made the statements. Our role now is to make sure that he follows up on those."
Karzai has pledged to implement reforms, fight terrorism and take control of Afghan security within five years.
"We are trying our best to implement social, judicial and administrative reforms in our country," Karzai said. "Being a president is a heavy task and we will try our best to honestly fulfill this task in the future."
It's likely that Canada's support for Karzai -- and that of other Western nations -- will be directly linked to his ability to change the climate of corruption.
"He's under a lot of pressure from the international community, Canada included," Mackey Frayer said.
"Canada is saying it will stand by Karzai in his efforts to get corruption under control and eradicated, but the U.S. is being very stern and saying this is not open-ended and the international community wants to see results."
During his speech, Karzai pointed to the presence Pakistan's Zardari as a sign that progress had been made during his tenure and would continue.
Traditionally tense relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have improved steadily since Pakistan's elected government led by Zardari replaced the military dictatorship of Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
Karzai said Zardari's presence at his inauguration was a sign of "good relationship, good brotherhood."
He also said he plans to hold a conference in Kabul to look into ways of tackling corruption. He also promised to wage war against Afghanistan's burgeoning drug trade, saying those linked to narcotics would be prosecuted.