Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
It was a strange or at least unusual event. Reuters, other news wires and mostly Afghan journalists were summoned to the presidential palace early in the morning. A frequent and very familiar routine of standing around, waiting and multiple security checks then started .
On this occasion, we were packed onto mini buses with blacked-out windows and told only that we would be leaving the palace and going “some place outside”. The guessing game ended when the buses, flanked by armored Land Cruisers and charging down a busy city highway, honking other vehicles out of the way, turned into another building very familiar to reporters in Kabul: the Independent Election Commission (IEC).
It is not unusual for President Hamid Karzai to give press conferences elsewhere in Afghanistan (in other cities for instance) but I cannot recall a time when he addressed reporters in Kabul anywhere but the press room of his palace. Not knowing what was in store, I reminded myself it was also April Fool’s day.
We all agreed that we might get a response out of Karzai about the rejection of a presidential decree by the lower house of parliament and possibly something about the reforms that the U.N. has wanted of the IEC.