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5.26.2009

Afghanistan's Constitutional Opera Continues...

May 22nd marked what should have been the end of President Karzai's first term as President according to the 2004 constitution. As Tom Ginsburg noted in his March 31 post, the Supreme Court justified the continuation of Karzai's term until August elections to "ensure national consensus and stability in the country." The stability argument is an important one - and has largely won the day for the moment - but is a thin legal pretext.

The Supreme Court's decision could be read to have justified almost any delay, a fact that Karzai's opponents are starting to make hay of as election season kicks off. Some members of parliament continue to protest the decision, as one opposition spokesman stated: "We believe this government does not have any legitimacy from today on, but because of national interest and maintaining stability in the country, we will not launch any demonstrations."

Has this decision helped the standing of the court in the larger battle over who interprets Afghanistan's constitution? On one hand, you have many Afghans (and embassies) recognizing the court's decision. On the other hand, the facile reasoning in the decision has deepened the sense that the court is not independent, further strengthing calls within the parliament for the creation of a constitutional court-like Commission for the Supervision of the Implementation of the Constitution, described in my previous post. So the battle continues...

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