Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Afghanistan Election Update -- While Ashraf Ghani leads in early tabulation of results from the Runoff vote , Abdullah Abdullah not inclined to go away quietly --- Abdullah calls Afghanistan run-off 'rigged' Former foreign minister says he is the winner of the poll and that nobody who "committed fraud" should take power.

Al Jazeera.....

Abdullah calls Afghanistan run-off 'rigged'

Former foreign minister says he is the winner of the poll and that nobody who "committed fraud" should take power.

Last updated: 08 Jul 2014 09:01
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Abdullah rejected the results of the election at a rally of his supporters in Kabul [AFP]
Afghan politician Abdullah Abdullah has rejected the results of June's presidential run-off, calling the vote that put his arch-rival Ashraf Ghani ahead "rigged".
Speaking on Tuesday to a crowded gathering, known as a  Loya Jirga, in Kabul, Abdullah told his followers that the results of the vote were fabricated and that he had won both rounds of voting.
From the perspective of one neighbourhood in Herat
"I am refusing to accept the result, I condemn it and I will not accept it," Abdullah said.
"Nobody who has committed fraud should dream they will make their way to the presidential palace," he added.
Abdullah told his thousands of supporters he was the winner of the run-off, putting himself on a collision course with Ghani.
"We are the winner of this round of elections without any doubt," he told a roaring crowd in central Kabul.
The veteran politician, who was Afghanistan's former foreign minister, said the Afghan people were waiting for him to announce a government and "defend their votes", but stopped short of declaring his own government.
Abdullah's refusal to accept the result threatens to spark a political crisis in a country already destabilised by a conflict with Taliban fighters.
Earlier on Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that any attempt to take power illegally would cost Afghanistan US support.
"I have noted reports of protests in Afghanistan and of suggestions of a 'parallel government' with the gravest concern," he said in a statement issued by the US embassy in Kabul.
"Any action to take power by extra-legal means will cost Afghanistan the financial and security support of the United States and the international community."
Deadly blast
Security has been deteriorating in Afghanistan as most ISAF forces prepare to leave the country after 12 years of war against the Taliban.
Abdullah's comments came shortly after at least four NATO soldiers, two policemen and 10 civilians were killed in a suicide blast in eastern Afghanistan.
Al Jazeera's Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, said the timing of the attack was particularly sensitive.
"These kinds of attacks are very, very worrying especially at this very politically delicate time with the presidential election results very much in doubt," our correspondent said.
Security sources told Al Jazeera that women and children were among the dead and at least 14 people were also injured in the attack on a medical clinic in the province of Parwan near the Bagram airbase.
The Taliban claimed responsibility in a text message to the Reuters news agency.
Al Jazeera and agencies

Anti War...

Both Sides Claim Victory in Disputed Afghan Vote

US Warns Against Any Attempts to Form 'Parallel Govt'

by Jason Ditz, July 08, 2014
The growing dispute over widespread fraud in the Afghan presidential election continues to escalate as Abdullah Abdullah, who according to preliminary counts is trailing Ashraf Ghani, claimed victory today, insisting he would not allow ballot stuffing to change the outcome of the vote.
Abdullah, who opposed the release of the preliminary counts until after the probe into the fraud, stoppedshort of attempting to form a new government as self-proclaimed president-elect.
That’s in keeping with the Obama Administration’s position, as they oppose any attempt at forming a “parallel government.” They also opposed anyone claiming victory, however, and warned against any “extra-constitutional measures.
Abdullah was the presumptive front-runner going into the run-off, and audio tapes revealed a conspiracy among some election officials to stuff the ballot in favor of Ghani. According to the preliminary count Abdullah actually got less votes than in the first round, despite getting endorsements from the largest candidates to miss the run-off threshold.
Tensions are soaring in Afghanistan over the situation, as Abdullah is overwhelmingly popular in the north, while Ghani’s support is primarily in the area around Kandahar in the south. Both enjoy support from considerable portions of the population, and at this point no matter who wins the other will claim they had the vote “stolen” from them.
The US was seen as preferring Abdullah going into the run-off, though their primary goal, as with any Afghan election, is to spin it as having gone comparatively will in spite of evidence of overwhelming voter fraud.


NATO Sec Gen wants BSA and SOFA signed before Wales summit in September

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By Mujib Rahman | 2014-06-28 | 15:45:00 |

The NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen has asked the government of Afghanistan to finalize the bilateral security agreement (BSA) between Kabul and Washington and the NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) ahead of Wales Summit.

This September, Wales will host the NATO summit, which will bring together largest gathering of international leaders. The senior Afghan government officials are also likely to attend.

President of the U.S. Barack Obama, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, and President of France Fran├žois Hollande are among the top world politicians expected to attend the summit.

The summit comes as NATO plans to draw down from Afghanistan and end its longest ever mission in the war-ravaged country. The world leaders are likely to discuss the future strategy and the new mission in Afghanistan post 2014.

In a statement issued here, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Secretary General Rasmussen and Deputy Foreign Minister Irshad Ahmadi discussed various issues in Brussels on Friday.

During the meeting, Mr. Rasmussen emphasized that the new leadership in Afghanistan should finalize the long-delayed bilateral security agreement (BSA) and the NATO Status of Agreement (SOFA) before the Wales summit in September this year.

In the meeting, the Secretary General said NATO is fully prepared to implement its post-2014 mission in Afghanistan and hoped the election process will move smoothly so that the new President can attend the important summit in September.

Mr. Ahmadi assured him that the transfer of power will take place as scheduled .

Ghani leads Afghanistan presidential run-off

Ex-finance minister ahead of rival with 56.44 percent of vote in preliminary results, electoral commission says.

Last updated: 07 Jul 2014 18:55
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Ghani (left) and Abdullah have held talks in an effort to resolve the stand-off over the election results [Reuters]
Preliminary results in Afghanistan's presidential polls have put Ashraf Ghani, the country's former finance minister, in the lead, but the electoral commission has emphasised that the results are not final.
In an announcement on Monday, Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani of the Afghan presidential commission said Ghani, an ex-World Bank economist, was in the lead with 56.44 percent of the vote, while his rival Abdullah Abdullah, a former Afghan foreign minister, had 43.56 percent.
The Independent Election Commission acknowledged that vote rigging had occurred and promised to launch a more extensive investigation before final results are released after the complaints commission recounted a number of votes.
The preliminary result will include all votes from the June 14 run-off vote, with the official result scheduled for July 22 after a period for adjudication of complaints.
Al Jazeera's Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, said that the head of the elections commission had also admitted that the vote was far from perfect.
"There were some flaws to it but that's to be expected, he said, in a country like Afghanistan where security is still an issue where some polling stations couldn't be opened," she said.
"Some of the observers and even security officials, he said, were biased in favour of one candidate or the other."
Last-minute talks
Monday's announcement came after last-minute talks by the candidates in an effort to try and resolve a stand-off over the election outcome.
Ghani's camp said the two sides had agreed to audit an additional 7,100 polling stations to ensure the final result is clean but Abdullah's aides said the compromise was not final.
Both rounds of the vote to elect a successor to incumbent President Hamid Karzai have been plagued by accusations of mass fraud, and the refusal by either candidate to accept the outcome could split the fragile country along ethnic lines.
From the perspective of one neighbourhood in Herat
Abdullah, a former anti-Taliban fighter, claimed widespread fraud in the election.
He has accused Karzai of playing a role in the alleged vote-rigging in Ghani's favour and says he would accept the vote only if he saw firm evidence that fraudulent votes had been thrown out and the final result was clean.
Ghani attracts much of his support from the Pashtun tribes of the south and east, while Abdullah's loyalists are Tajiks and other northern Afghan groups - echoing the ethnic divisions of the bloody 1992 to 1996 civil war.
The dispute over the election results comes as US-led troops end their 13-year war against the Taliban, and the country faces a new era with declining civilian aid.
In a statement released after the preliminary results were announced on Monday, the US State Department said: "A full and thorough review of all reasonable allegations of irregularities is essential to ensure that the Afghan people have confidence in the integrity of the electoral process and that the new Afghan president is broadly accepted inside and outside Afghanistan."
Al Jazeera and agencies

Anti War ......

Afghan Prelim. Vote Results Show Ghani ‘Win’: Abdullah Slams ‘Coup’

Dispute Over Massive Fraud Threatens to Spark New Violence

by Jason Ditz, July 07, 2014
With evidence of massive vote fraud and ballot stuffing totally unresolved, the Afghan Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) released preliminary results of the president run-off election, tapping Karzai ally Ashraf Ghani to win with 55.44% of the vote.
A Ghani victory is a major surprise, as Abdullah Abdullah was the front-runner throughout the election process. Evidence pointing to ballot stuffing on Ghani’s behalf adds to the questions about this interim result, and indeed Abdullah had sought to have its release delayed until the probes were completed.
Abdullah slammed the result as a “coup against people’s votes,” and said he would not accept any result that didn’t throw out all of the fraudulent votes. Officials downplayed the situation, saying this was not the “final result” and only preliminary.
Abdullah withdrew from the run-off vote in 2009 over concerns about fraud, and this time around was seen as a likely victor, falling just short of the threshold needed to avoid the runoff entirely, and securing high-profile endorsements from opponents before the runoff was held.
The result, either way, will be a disaster, as supporters of either Ghani or Abdullah will inevitably feel “robbed,” and both sides are already lining up for clashes, threatening to open yet another front of violence in war-torn Afghanistan.