Karzai promises to root out corruption

Author: Associated Press

Mr Karzai knows he is being closely watched by the international community for
signs that his administration is moving beyond the cronyism and graft of the
past five years.

He has come under intense international pressure to clean up his government,
but has often bristled at criticism of corruption from Western powers.

After being sworn in to a second five-year term today, Mr Karzai said his
government was doing whatever it could to implement reforms, and pledged
that Afghan forces would be able to take control of the country’s security
in the next five years.

He also said he believed the “problem of international terrorism” in
Afghanistan would be overcome.

Mr Karzai said: “We are trying our best to implement social, judicial and
administrative reforms in our country.

“Being a president is a heavy task and we will try our best to honestly
fulfill this task in the future.”

The ceremony was attended by about 800 Afghan and foreign dignitaries from
more than 40 countries.

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari and
British Foreign Minister David Miliband were among them.

Mr Karzai said a conference would be held soon in Kabul to address ways to
tackle corruption, and his government would take its fight against drug
trafficking seriously.

“Those who spread corruption should be tried and prosecuted,” he said.
“Corruption is a very dangerous enemy of the state.”

The president insisted he would select “expert ministers” capable of providing
competent leadership.

Mr Karzai won this year’s fraud-tainted presidential election by default,
after his main rival Abdullah Abdullah pulled out of a run-off, saying it
was impossible for the vote to be fair.

During his speech, the president welcomed Afghans representing all tribes and
ethnicities who turned out for his inauguration and said it demonstrated
national unity.

He also thanked the other presidential candidates who ran in the election and
invited them to contribute to the new government.

“People should know that only the votes of the people can legitimise the
government,” Mr Karzai said.

Seeking to portray himself as a unifying force in the country, Mr Karzai said:
“I am the servant of all the people of Afghanistan, from every ethnicity,
every tribe, from every place, from every province – from every age, whether
they are small children, whether they are old people, women – I invite all
the presidential candidates to come and help in serving this nation.”

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