White House press secretary Robert Gibbs Friday morning labeled “genuinely troubling” comments by Afghan President Hamid Karzai suggesting US and United Nations officials tried to steal the election from him last Fall.
“Obviously some of the comments by President Karzai are troubling, they are cause for real and genuine concern,” Gibbs said. “The amount of resources that have been dedicated to both deal with extremists in Afghanistan as well as to set up the type of government necessary at all levels.”
President Obama traveled to Afghanistan earlier this week and reiterated – yet again -- his message to Karzai that he needs to further combat corruption in the government.
In a speech to officials from the country’s Independent Election Commission in Kabul Thursday, Karzai said that "foreign embassies" tried to bribe IEC officials to delay the election results so as to force Karzai into a coalition government.
"Today I have come here to tell you that there was widespread fraud and rigging in the presidential and provincial-councils elections,” Karzai said, according to the Associated Press . “It was not the Afghans who committed the widespread fraud," he said, accusing former deputy envoy of the United Nations Secretary General in Afghanistan Peter Galbraith; European Union Chief Observer General Philippe Morillon, and “embassies in Kabul.”
(Click HERE to listen to our podcast interview with Galbraith from last November.)
The Afghan president actually accused Galbraith of having threatened to kill an IEC official – saying he would "dig his grave with his own hands,” Karzai charged – which needless to say is a charge Galbraith dismissed as false.
"I don't talk that way,” Galbraith told the Wall Street Journal. “It's as absurd as his accusation that I and my team perpetrated the fraud to get him re-elected.”
Karzai also used language to describe the presence of the US in the country that the White House, State Department, and Pentagon found disturbing.
“In this situation there is a thin curtain between invasion and cooperation-assistance,” Karzai said in this New York Times translation , saying that if US troops are perceived as “invaders” the insurgency “could become a national resistance.”
Gibbs said today that the White House, working through the State Department, is “seeking clarification from President Karzai about the nature of some of his remarks. And I think the president was quite clear with President Karzai over the weekend of the necessary steps that have to be taken to prove governance and corruption in order to deal with the problems that we face there.”