Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sparring regarding Vote audit continues ( August 4 , 2014 ) .... Abdullah rejoins Afghan vote audit ; Afghan vote audit delayed over disagreement Candidate Abdullah's objection to criteria to address alleged fraud claims in June run-off election stalls process.

Abdullah rejoins Afghan vote audit

August 04, 2014 - 12:50:08 am

Afghan election commission workers unseal a box containing ballot papers for an audit of the presidential run-off vote, at a counting centre in Kabul, yesterday.
KABUL: Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has agreed to rejoin an audit of the votes, the United Nations said yesterday, after tense negotiations to rescue the election amid a prolonged dispute over fraud.

The country’s first democratic transfer of power has been engulfed in fraud allegations, undermining international hopes that a smooth election would help vindicate the costly US-led military and civilian aid effort since 2001.

Abdullah’s representatives refused to attend the recount yesterday due to disagreements over how votes would be judged fraudulent or clean — throwing the election into further chaos.

But a deal was finalised later in the day, averting an imminent collapse of the process to choose President Hamid Karzai’s successor as Nato combat troops wind down their 13-year war against the Taliban.

Abdullah’s team “informed the United Nations that it will... resume its participation in the audit process tomorrow,” the UN said in a statement last evening.

More than eight million votes were cast on June 14, with Abdullah quickly lodging complaints that “industrial-scale” fraud had denied him victory over poll rival Ashraf Ghani.

The US ambassador in Kabul hailed Abdullah’s decision to rejoin the audit as a major step forward, adding that he expected the new Afghan president to be inaugurated at the end of August.

“It is very welcome news,” Ambassador James Cunningham said. “A lot of work has been done... so that the audit can go forward at a rapidly accelerated pace in the next couple of days.

“We hope very much that will happen starting tomorrow... with an outcome to be produced in the next coming weeks.”

The election battle between Abdullah, a former anti-Taliban resistance fighter, and Ghani, an ex-World Bank economist, has threatened to spark a spiral of instability as foreign troops pull out and violence increases nationwide.

After Abdullah rejected preliminary results that named Ghani as the easy winner, US Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Kabul and persuaded the two candidates to agree to the audit to sift out fraudulent votes.

Kerry’s intervention quashed growing fears that Abdullah was about to set up a “parallel government”, but the UN-supervised audit triggered another outbreak of disagreements.

Abdullah’s team also alleged yesterday that second Vice President Karim Khalili had been caught on tape saying that President Karzai was working illegally in favour of Ghani.

Karzai has vowed to stay neutral in the election.

“We hope that the two candidates will have an understanding that further delay is not in the interest of the country,” Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi said, adding the audit result was now due by August 25.

“The delay has had a negative impact on the economy, on the security situation, on public opinion,” he said. “Further delays could be very dangerous for the country.”

Abdullah believes he was also cheated of victory in the 2009 election when President Karzai retained power.

Karzai, who has ruled since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, is barred from standing for a third term in office.

In a grim reflection of unrest across Afghanistan, a UN report last month revealed that civilian casualties from the conflict soared by 24 percent in the first half of 2014.

Any street unrest by the candidates’ supporters would revive memories of the 1992-1996 civil war.

Abdullah draws most of his support from Tajiks and other northern Afghan groups, while Ghani’s support base is mainly among the Pashtun tribes of the south and east.


Al Jazeera......

Afghan vote audit delayed over disagreement

Candidate Abdullah's objection to criteria to address alleged fraud claims in June run-off election stalls process.

Last updated: 02 Aug 2014 18:52

Preliminary results from the June 14 run-off showed candidate Ghani (L) well ahead of his rival Abdullah [EPA]

Attempts to resume the audit of Afghanistan's presidential election have stalled as candidate Abdullah Abdullah disagreed over the criteria to address alleged fraud in the June run-off election.

Abdullah and rival Ashraf Ghani agreed to the inspection of all 8.1 million ballots cast in the June 14 poll in a deal brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry. However, the recount has since faced several suspensions as the candidates sparred over how to disqualify ballots.

The audit had been expected to resume on Saturday after the UN and the country's Independent Election Commission (IEC) said both candidates had agreed to a UN-backed proposal that included criteria for invalidating fraudulent ballots.

Abdullah's observers, however, did not show up at the election commission in Kabul, with his spokesman saying they were still negotiating with the UN.

"The IEC has adopted the UN proposal, but we still have our observations," Abdullah's spokesman Mujib Rahman Rahimi told AFP news agency.

"What happens today is not a boycott, it is not an attempt to disrupt the process, the issue is on how to maximise the criteria for invalidation," he said.

The impasse

The UN expected the audit to restart on Sunday after the IEC agreed to another 24-hour delay.

"The audit process will resume tomorrow and God willing we are not thinking of any more delay," IEC chairman Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani said, adding the postponement was to allow Abdullah to finalise the audit agreement with the UN.

Preliminary results from the June 14 run-off showed former finance minister Ghani well ahead of Abdullah, with the latter claiming "industrial-scale" fraud had denied him victory.

The bitter impasse over the vote to succeed President Hamid Karzai had raised fears of a return to the ethnic violence of the 1990s.

In a bid to pull the country back from the brink of crisis, Kerry flew into Kabul early last month and persuaded the two opponents to agree to the audit.

The process has since fallen behind its initial three week schedule as the rival campaign teams fought over disputed ballot papers.

The timetable for the new president to be inaugurated on August 2 has been abandoned and no new date has been set.

By the way , let's look at the clusterfark known as Afghanistan a bit closer ! H/T Mish !

Saturday, August 02, 2014 1:56 PM

Afghanistan a How-To Lesson in Perfect Stupidity: 54,000 Paid Ghosts, Vanishing Firearms, Warlord Protection Rackets

Thank president Bush, vice president Dick Cheney, and president Obama for working together to create a how-to map of perfect foreign policy stupidity.

The Telegraph has details in Afghanistan has cost more to rebuild than Europe after Second World War
  • American taxpayers have provided £61.5 billion since 2002 and Britain about £890 million, for hundreds of development projects.
  • The military operation has cost America a further £296 billion and Britain £22 billion.
  • Nearly 13 years after the Taliban were overthrown, the US and other donors continue to fund 60 per cent of the Afghan national budget and are pledged to underwrite a further “decade of transformation” in the country.
  • “Large areas of the country will soon be off limits to US personnel due to base closures and troop withdrawals,” the report by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction says. About 80 per cent of the country is already beyond the reach of US government monitors, according to an estimate last October.
  • Senior members of the Afghan government have accrued vast wealth since 2001 including members of President Karzai’s family.
  • A US army analysis made public in April said: “Corruption directly threatens the viability and legitimacy of the Afghan state.”
  • Western forces are “trapped in a warlord protection racket”
  • Despite $7.6 billion spent on counter-narcotics operations, opium production has increased for the past three years and is now at record levels.
  • America and the EU spent more than $3 billion on building up the Afghan police force, yet 54,000 of those policemen are “ghosts” — non-existent but being paid each month.
  • Mr Sopko found that 16 Italian-built C27 transport planes worth $486 million had been left to rot next to the runway at Kabul airport.
  • The US had provided 747,000 firearms to Afghan security forces worth $626 million. They found that 43 per cent have disappeared from official stock lists that track their whereabouts in Afghanistan.

What some see as "perfect stupidity" others (especially the industrial-military complex) see as a "job well done", complete with arms to the Taliban to ensure that the war on terrorism goes on and on.