Afghanistan President Reluctantly Swears in New Parliament

KABUL -Afghan President Hamid Karzai reluctantly inaugurated a new parliament today, while also accusing his Western backers of “foreign inference” during the 4-month political crisis.

Afghans went to the polls back in September but the election was marred by fraud and corruption.

Last week Karzai tried to delay the opening of the new parliament so investigators could continue reviewing the election. The move was widely seen as an attempt to keep newly elected anti-Karzai parliamentarians from taking their seats.

But winning candidates and Western officials feared Karzai’s investigation would only make the political crisis worse and pressured Karzai to open parliament.

Karzai’s relationship with the US and the international community has deteriorated since the 2009 presidential election when he accused Western officials of meddling in the fraud-ridden presidential poll.

Today, he made similar accusations.

"During the election process we faced serious problems in protecting people's votes, preventing fraud, and from the interference of foreigners," Karzai said in his opening speech to members of the assembly shortly before they were sworn in.

The opening of parliament marks the end to a long drawn out battle between Karzai and newly elected MPs.

Today’s swearing in ceremony was widely seen as a victory for lawmakers who forced Karzai to back down from his plan to further delay the opening session.

America and its coalition partners have been pressing Karzai to demonstrate good governance as the US prepares to transition power and security responsibility to Afghans.

However, this latest showdown is the latest in a series of public disagreements between Karzai and the West that have cast doubts on president’s credibility as an ally and partner.

Conor Powell joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 2009 and serves as a Jerusalem-based foreign correspondent.