Neil Wollman and Abdulhadi Hairan
In late March, President Obama paid a surprise visit to Kabul to meet his Afghan counterpart, reportedly asking Karzai to improve governance reform to combat corruption. Since then, the two governments have exchanged jabs.
Karzai has been openly defiant of U.S. concerns, specifically election reform in the wake of a presidential election widely considered fraudulent, and has charged foreign interference in elections. The U.S. has focused on his decrees eliminating UN participants on the Election Complaint Commission (which was followed by a partial retreat).
The reaction by the Afghan Parliament has been mixed, with the Karzai-dominated upper house supporting his decrees and the lower house rejecting them. In March, Karzai told a UN representative that by mid-April there would be a “major and constructive reshuffle of the election commission,” and he did dismiss the head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC).
Most recently, Karzai and the UN worked out a compromise that makes some positive changes in personnel and procedure that will improve election governance, and which has brought the UN and donor nations on board to fund the September parliamentary elections. However, there are complaints from Afghan opposition leaders and some in parliament who say that the reforms are not sufficient. And likely were only enough to win international funding for the election.