News Summary - September 18, 2010

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In today’s news: Afghan voters go to the polls. A rocket attack has been reported in Kabul and some attacks on polling centers in Herat, Ghazni, and Badakshan. Pres. Karzai cast his vote and calls on Afghans to turn out despite acknowledging that there will be problems. The Taliban reportedly kidnapped two candidates and 18 polling center and campaign workers Friday.

Afghanistan — Elections

  • Election-Day Resources: For regular updates throughout the day check; Democracy International on Twitter; Pajhwok; Alive in Afghanistan; FEFA on Twitter; Al Jazeera liveblog; Reuters liveblog; Afghan Election Data; the #Afghan10 search tag on Twitter.
  • Polls Open: Polls opened around the country at 7:00 AM this morning amid tight security; they are scheduled to close at 4:00 PM local time. There are reports of a rocket attack in central Kabul and a small planted bomb blast; no injuries have been reported. There are also reports of attacks on five polling stations in Badakshan, Herat, and Ghazni according to the Ministry of Interior. Night letters have also been distributed in many provinces warning Afghans not to participate in the vote. Pres. Karzai has cast his vote in Kabul this morning, after which he reiterated a call to turn out and vote; Friday, he acknowledged that "under the circumstances we must expect that there'll be irregularities, there'll be problems and there'll be allegations as well". His assessment was echoed by Amb. Holbrooke in Islamabad, who told reporters that “We're not looking for perfection here." Preliminary results are not expected before Oct 8 and final results will be announced Oct 30. [AJE] [BBC] [Reuters] [NPR] [AP] [AFP]
  • Security Threats and Kidnappings: The AP reports that a voting center administrator in Helmand was killed when his vehicle was hit by a roadside IED. On Friday, the Taliban announced the capture of two parliamentary candidates, one in Herat and one in Laghman, and 18 polling center and campaign workings in Badghis. U.S. troops in Ghazni freed two unidentified hostages there Friday. The WSJ reports the Taliban attacked a prison facility in Takhar and freed an unspecified number of prisoners there. The Ministry of Interior pledged to secure polling centers and called on Afghans to vote. An Interior Ministry spokesman also said at least 5,000 female poll searchers had been dispatched around the country. [AP] [Reuters] [WSJ] [NYT] [Reuters] [AJE] [BBC] [RFE/RL]
  • Fraud and Campaign Challenges: The NYT quotes prices for buying votes in various Afghan provinces and predicts more retail than systematic fraud in this election. The Guardian predicts that Ahmad Wali Karzai will consolidate control in Kandahar through the election of favored candidates; speaking to the Globe and Mail, Ahmad Wali says that “We want to send a team to the Afghan parliament which will not be against the Afghan government.” ABC travels with candidate Fawzia Gilani in Herat, who has faced the kidnapping of her campaign supporters and says Iran has financed some of her opponents. McClatchy profiles a mother-daughter pair of candidates in Nuristan. [NYT] [Globe and Mail] [Guardian] [ABC] [McClatchy]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Quake Hits Central Afghanistan; No Major Damage Reported [AP]
  • Kabul Bank Crisis Followed US Push for Cleanup [WAPO]
  • Document: Government Media and Information Center Advisory to the Press [Govt of Afghanistan]
  • Document: IEC Chairman Direction to IEC Staff [Govt of Afghanistan]
  • Report: Looking Back: An Analysis of Voting Patterns in the First Parliament [Afghanistan Watch (pdf)]
  • Commentary: What’s In a Name? Relatives of the Powerful Run for Parliament - “In an election without parties, where the ideology of the two and a half thousand candidates is largely unofficial or confused, it is difficult to assess who is up and who is down in Afghan politics, but one clear trend is the high number of candidates who are the relatives of those already in power.” [Kate Clark, AAN]