[JURIST] Afghan President Hamid Karzai [official profile, JURIST news archive] pledged to fight corruption in his government during his inaugural address [text, PDF] on Thursday. To this end, Karzai announced that he would soon be organizing a conference to research the sources of the corruption and bribery that is widespread throughout Afghanistan and find ways to combat it. Additionally, he announced that his office, in cooperation with the National Assembly [official website], would draft a new law that would require senior government officials to declare their assets and an expansion of bodies charged with the oversight of the government:
The Government of Afghanistan is committed to end the culture of impunity and violation of law and bring to justice those involved in spreading corruption and abuse of public property. To do this, will require effective and strong measures. Therefore, alongside an intensified judicial reform, all government anti-corruption efforts and agencies have to be strengthened and supported. Particular attention will be given to building the capacity and upgrading the High Office of Oversight for the Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy. Measures for supporting the anti-corruption agencies include: increasing the scope of their authority, improving their capacity and resources for detection and investigation, expanding their organizational structure, as well as reforming the relevant anti-corruption laws and regulations.Under intense pressure from the US and European Union, Karzai announced [BBC report] earlier this month the formation of a commission to investigate corruption in the government, which is ranked by Transparency International [advocacy website] as one of the most corrupt [ranking] in the world, with only Somalia ranked as more corrupt. Also during his address, Karzai set a goal of full Afghan control of security within five years and declared the government's intention of dismissing and prosecuting all officials connected with the illicit drug trade in the country.
Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) [official website] earlier this month declared Karzai the winner [JURIST report] of the presidential election [JURIST news archive] after challenger Abdullah Abdullah [BBC profile] withdrew from the runoff election due to the his belief that the upcoming vote would not be free or fair. Karzai was originally declared to have secured over half of the vote, avoiding a runoff, but this was challenged by the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) [official website] in October when it invalided [JURIST report] a significant portion of Karzai's vote due to findings of fraud at 210 polling stations. Soon after the election was held in August, Abdullah alleged widespread voter fraud [JURIST report], filing more than 100 complaints with the ECC alleging ballot stuffing, inflated vote counts, and intimidation at the polls by Karzai supporters. The tumultuous election has come amid a major policy review [NYT report] of the US war effort in Afghanistan by the administration of US President Barack Obama [official profile]. The legitimacy and competence of the Afghan government is seen as a major factor in the deliberations by top US officials.