Afghan prez...

November 18, 2009

On Thursday, Hamid Karzai will be sworn in for another term as Afghanistan's president. Security is tightening around Kabul. Foreign leaders are flying in to attend the inauguration -- largely in hopes of adding some legitimacy to Afghanistan's unstable leadership.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon will represent Canada -- and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton secretly arrived in Afghanistan today. That story's in today's New York Times.

It's been a long and controversial road to get to this point -- and there's no sign things will get any easier. Let's take a look back: In August, there was an election. Then there was a United Nations-backed investigation of widespread voter fraud. Then there was international pressure on Afghan president-elect Hamid Karzai to agree to a run-off. Karzai finally agreed -- and the "do-over" against his main rival, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, was supposed to happen on November 7th. But THEN, Abdullah pulled out in protest, saying the election couldn't possibly be fair, and that voters would be at risk of violence.

So that brings us to now. And a lot has happened leading up to tomorrow's swearing-in. Earlier this week, the Afghan government announced a large-scale anti-corruption unit - aimed at monitoring its own top officials. CBC's James Murray is in Kandahar, and many Afghans he spoke with told him corruption is the number one problem in their country.

Also earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton bluntly said the Afghan government had better clean up its act if it wants to see more aid money.

And aid is desperately needed by ordinary Afghan citizens. Today, Oxfam released a report -- you can read the findings here -- saying that the majority of Afghans see poverty as the root cause of the conflict that plagues their lives.

And today, U.S. president Barack Obama says he's close to a decision on America's next steps in the combat mission. Check out the BBC's coverage on this. Obama's top general in Afghanistan says more troops are needed if there's any hope of succeeding. Afghanistan -- not to mention coalition partners Canada and Britain -- await his answer.


Nicole Ireland, Producer, World Report

Nicole Ireland, Producer, World Report