Wednesday, April 15, 2009

US vying to 'hand-pick' Afghan president

US vying to 'hand-pick' Afghan president

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Washington is using its political clout to influence the outcome of the upcoming presidential elections in Afghanistan, a report says.

The US embassy in Kabul has urged Afghanistan's leading presidential hopefuls to withdraw from the race in favor of Ali Ahmad Jalali -- a candidate that is more preferred by Washington, reported Pakistan's Ummat daily.

In return, US official have promised to guarantee key positions for the three candidates -- which include finance minister Ashraf Ghani, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and political activist Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi -- in the next Afghan government.

The move received instant condemnation as flagrant US interference in Afghan politics and internal affairs.

Jalali -- who is viewed as the main rival of President Hamed Karzai in the August presidential elections -- is a US citizen and former Afghan minister of the interior.

His candidacy is seen as a direct violation of the Chapter Three, Article Sixty Two of Afghanistan's Constitution, which states that only an Afghan citizen has the right to run for president - which means that Jalali would have to apply for Afghan citizenship first.

Zalmay Khalilzad and Ashraf Ghani, two other candidates vying for presidency, also hold US citizenship.

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