18 November 2009

Karzai hopes for inauguration without bloodshed

KABUL, Afghanistan—The sun bore through the dust-choked skies this morning as President Hamid Karzai prepares for what he hopes will be a quiet inauguration ceremony after an election that returned him to office was shredded by fraud and the same week an international survey rated Afghanistan second from the bottom in terms of corruption.

Only Somalia rated worst, according to Transparency International.

The ineffectiveness of the Afghan government has prompted Karzai’s critics to dismiss him as the Mayor of Kabul. Today, as more and more districts fall under Taliban control, Karzai can’t even protect the nation’s capital. In recent months, government ministries, embassies, hotels and civilian guesthouse have been attacked with impunity.

Today has been declared a national holiday, largely to reduce the traffic in Kabul and make it easier to protect the inauguration from attack. Karzai, who desperately needs any good news, even banned the press.

Photo: Poorly trained and paid police limit access to Kabul city center to only those vehicles with the appropriate security tags.

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