News Summary, Oct 26
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DI is grateful to Colin Cookman of the Center for American Progress for contributing significantly to our summaries. Colin was a senior member of our Kabul-based media team during the election. To receive the Center for American Progress' full daily summary of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and related news, please subscribe here.
Update: Some analysis from local media of the results, and the reaction by FEFA and others. The Iran moneybags story rolls on, as does the Taliban peace talks issue, despite Ambassador Holbrooke's comments that the contacts don't add up to anything formal.
Afghanistan – Election
- Recount has begun for 105 Polling Stations in Ghor Province 8 am, Dari daily, Oct 26, 2010 After persistent protests from a number of candidates in Ghor province the IEC has begun a process of recount for 105 polling stations. An IEC official from Ghor province told Pajhwok that after repeated complaints from some of the candidates the IEC central leadership has asked the provincial IEC officials to count again the ballots from 105 polling stations in the province.
- FEFA has criticized ECC’s conduct 8 am, Dari daily, Oct 26, 2010 The Fair and Free Election Foundation of Afghanistan has criticized the ECC procedure to eliminate some candidates from the list for not resigning from their government positions on time. Recently the ECC removed Nisar Ahmad Ghoryani from the list of winners because Mr. Ghoryani had failed to resign from his government position on its due time. Though, based on the preliminary results, Mr. Ghoryani has garnered the largest number of votes in Herat province. FEFA states that if the ECC had dealt with the eligibility of candidates before the Election Day many votes would not have been wasted and voters would have voted for other candidates. (See yesterday's summary for more on this.)
- Parliamentary Elections and a Crisis of Legitimacy Mandegar, Dari daily, Oct 26, 2010 A columnist, Ahmad Imran, questions IEC’s attempts to annul fraudulent ballots: Since only 40 percent of the electorate has participated in the September 18 parliamentary elections, IEC’s decision to annul over a million votes to ensure the fairness of the election is increasing the crisis of legitimacy of the elections. It is stated in the law that elections only have legitimacy when they are secret, free and universal. Cancelling millions of votes is putting the universality of the elections into question.
And from last Saturday:
- A Glimpse at the Composition of the Future Parliament (A Column by Murtazwi) 8 am, Dari daily, Oct 23, 2010 The composition of the preliminary election result is worth looking at from several angles, the author writes.
- A patent decrease in the votes of Mujahidin leaders: The preliminary results indicate that the Mujahidin leaders have lost much of their popularity. Those who had garnered tens of thousands of votes in first parliamentary election have not been able to manage to win even a fraction of that vote. This indicates that the people of the country are slowly moving away from the Mujahidin leaders. Thus, it seems that the citizenry is getting more politically aware.
- We also see in the preliminary result that many wealthy businessmen have been able to get elected. Many of the businessmen who have little political experience were candidates in this election. They took advantage of wealth to attract votes. It seems that they have been successful. This indicates the role money can play in the politics of this country.
- We see many of the local commanders and relatives of powerful government officials in the preliminary result list. This is proof of the fact that having political influence had been an advantage in this election.
- The previous parliament had some remnants of the Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan. They proved to be knowledgeable and active parliamentarians. However, all of them have been unable to get elected into the second parliament. Therefore, their political and ideological camp is without representative in the coming parliament.
- Some political parties had many candidates running on party platformd in this election. The preliminary result indicates that the political party candidates have failed miserably. It shows that parties do not have a significant role in the politics of this country.
- We see many new and less known faces in the preliminary results. We still don’t know what their role would be in future parliamentary politics. It is clear that government would be happy working with many un-experienced MPs. Many of these new MPs would be happy only with the title and position of an MP. They would be easy to manipulate by the government.
- Finally, it should also be noted that a significant number of young and educated individuals have been able to get elected. We don’t yet know what their role would be in the next parliament, but it indicates that the people in this election have given the young and the new faces a chance.
With all this we still have to wait to see what does the composition of the new parliament holds in store.
- Kandahar’s Preliminary Winners – “As ISAF celebrates its tactical military success, it clear that the root causes of the conflict in Kandahar are being reinforced by an election that has further delegitimized the government.” [Matthieu Aikins and Gran Heward, AAN]
- All in the family Three members of a family, including a woman, are among potential winners of the Wolesi Jirga election, bringing their household the distinction of having three representatives in parliament. Sayed Mansur Naderi, the family leader, his daughter Farkhunda Zahra Naderi and grandson Daud Naderi have won seats in the lower house. The winners represent three different provinces. [Pajhwok]
Afghanistan – Security
- Taliban Talks: Amb. Holbrooke, who arrived in Kabul yesterday, tells CNN that talks between the Taliban and the Karzai government involve "an increasing number of Taliban at high levels" but that the group was “widely dispersed” and “the idea of [formal] peace talks… doesn't really add up to the way this thing is going to evolve." [CNN] [FP] [TOLO]
- Security Contractors: At a press conference Monday Pres. Karzai said that “all parallel structures should be destroyed” and reiterated his resolve to close private security companies in the country by year’s end. "The international community supported [the decision] in its initial reaction and now it is slowly trying to mount pressure on us, using the reconstruction effort as an excuse," Karzai said, saying special security measures would be taken for development projects identified as needing additional security once the ban goes in effect. Representatives from the ACBAR NGO coordinating body and the ANSO security coordinating body tell IRIN the ban will not adversely affect NGO operations. [Pajhwok] [AP] [TOLO]
- Kandahar Operations and Other Attacks: The Post reports that successes in recent Kandahar operations have come thanks to the dispatch of several hundred militiamen under the commander of Spin Boldak commander Abdul Razziq. A roadside bomber in Herat on Tuesday killed four policemen; a suicide attack on a police post in Khost killed at least three officers and wounded five. A raid by NATO soldiers and follow-up airstrike in Baghran, Helmand killed as many as 25 people according to the head of the Helmand provincial council; NATO said 15 people were killed, but locals say a mosque was hit in the attack and the victims were civilians. [WAPO] [Reuters] [TOLO] [AP] [TOLO]
Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy
- Iranian Funds: As briefly noted yesterday, Pres. Karzai confirmed in a contentious Monday news conference that his office had received millions of dollars of money from Iran, noting that the U.S. was doing the same thing and insisting that the money is used "to help dispense assistance in various ways, to the employees around here, to people outside—and this is transparent." His comments reversed earlier denials by presidential spokesmen and the Iranians. A White House spokesman voiced concerns about a “negative influence” by Iran on Afghanistan yesterday, but the State Department’s spokesman said “we do not question Iran’s right to provide financial assistance to Afghanistan, nor do we question Afghanistan’s right to accept that assistance”. [NYT] [WSJ] [BBC] [AP] [AJE] [AFP] [BBC] [TOLO]
Afghanistan – Remainders
- Stryker Unit Sought to Defend Killing at Heart of Afghan Murder Probe [WAPO]