Karzai inaugurates Afghan parliament

Updated: 2011-01-26 20:45


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Karzai inaugurates Afghan parliament
Afghan President Hamid Karzai (L) speaks during a ceremony for newly-elected members of parliament in Kabul, Jan 26, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

KABUL - President Hamid Karzai inaugurated Afghan parliament amid tight security on Wednesday.

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The opening ceremony took place amid tight security as the road leading to the parliament building was closed for ordinary people.

It is the second Afghan parliament since the collapse of Taliban regime in late 2001 and 16th parliament in the history of the country.  

"You are representing the whole Afghanistan and not a particular clan. Let us join hands, stand together and work for the stability and prosperity of Afghanistan," Karzai said in his lengthy speech lasted for about an hour.

Afghanistan's second parliamentary election in the post- Taliban country was held in Sept 18, 2010 and the election body announced the final result on November 24.

More than 2,500 candidates including over 400 women contested the race to secure a seat in the 249-seat Wolesi Jirga or Lower House of parliament.

However, majority of the candidates who lost the race had disputed the result as fraud and approached the Attorney General to take legal action.

The row between the losing candidates and winners had led to postponements of opening the Wolesi Jirga or Lower House of parliament.

It was scheduled to be opened on Sunday Jan 23 but the president after meeting protesting candidates and promising that special court would continue investigation into fraud allegations opened it Wednesday.

"Afghanistan is the common home of all Afghans and only can be built by the hands of the people of Afghanistan," Karzai emphasized in his opening remarks at Wolesi Jirga or Lower House or parliament.

President Karzai also said that Afghan security forces are ready to take security charges from NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) by the end of 2014 and allows the international troops go their home.  

Nevertheless, Karzai called on international partners to further equip and train Afghan security forces.  

In his speech, the Afghan president also called on Taliban militants to give up militancy, contribute in peace and rebuilding process and eventually pave the way for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Emphasizing for enhancing relations with the neighboring countries, US, Europe and Islamic world, Karzai said that Afghanistan wants boosting cooperation with Iran, Pakistan, China and all its neighbors.

"China is our friendly neighbor. We want farther enhancing trade and economic relations and we are happy over its economic development and progress," Karzai said in parts of his speech.

President Karzai also said his "government wants to boost relations with Russia."  

Calling for more coordination and intensifying the war on terror, the Afghan president said that war on terror in Afghan villages would not deliver; adding terrorists' sanctuaries would be targeted outside Afghanistan.  

Defending his government's achievements over the past 10 years, the Afghan leader said that the country's foreign exchange reserve in 2002 was less than $200 million while today it is about $5 billion.

He also said that per capita income from $180 in 2002 has risen to over $500 today.

In Afghanistan today, he added more than 7.5 million Afghan children go to school while 10 years ago it was unthinkable.

Afghanistan, he added has natural resources worth more than $3 trillion and the government would do its best to utilize the resources for the progress and prosperity of its citizens.

President Karzai also said that legalizing of the presence of NATO and US troops is the objective of his government and hoped this would be done in the new parliament.

Meantime, Afghan president also expressed his gratitude to the countries contributed troops in the stabilizing security and rebuilding process of his war-torn nation.

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