News Summary - September 19, 2010

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In today’s news: Afghan voters went to the polls yesterday to elect the 2010 Wolesi Jirga; the IEC reports partial preliminary figures of about 3.6 million votes cast in yesterday’s elections. Security incidents are reported around the country but officials say violence was less than during last year’s presidential election. Complaints have been filed about the quality of indelible ink and arrests were made on voters carrying multiple registration cards but UNAMA head says no evidence of “massive fraud”. Obama administration official tells the Post that the December strategy review will not result in major changes in policy. Central Bank regulators ignored repeated warnings about Kabul Bank, NYT reports.

Afghanistan — Elections

  • Election Day: The IEC gave partial, preliminary figures yesterday that about 3.6 million votes were cast in yesterday’s election; the WSJ projects total turnout at about 4.2 million people, about half a million less than last year’s presidential election and two million less than the 2005 parliamentary elections. The IEC said that 92% of polling stations and 5,355 out of 5,816 polling centers had been confirmed open; according to the IEC 153 centers closed due to security. Security incidents and reports of fraud or irregularities proliferated around the country although ISAF and Defense Ministry officials say the level of violence was less than last year, with 303 incidents reported as of polling’s end compared to 479 last year. The Ministry of Interior reported that 11 Afghan civilians and three policemen were killed across the country yesterday, although some local media organizations reported much higher casualty figures; the governor of Kandahar escaped unharmed from a roadside bomb blast and there were multiple reports of rocket attacks and small arms fire in the southern and eastern provinces. Despite reports of individuals arrested with large numbers of voter cards and complaints about the quality of indelible ink used to mark voters’ fingers, UNAMA representative Staffan de Mistura said that there was no evidence of “massive fraud”; observer group FEFA reported 224 “serious acts of intimidation” during the first four hours of election day. Preliminary results are not expect before early October; final results are due to be announced by October 30. [NYT] [WSJ] [WAPO] [LAT] [BBC] [AP] [Reuters] [AFP] [AJE] [Guardian] [CSM] [McClatchy] [TOLO] [TOLO] [FEFA]

Afghanistan — Security

  • Strategy Review: Anonymous U.S. administration officials tell the Post that the upcoming December strategy review is “unlikely to yield any major changes” and that they do not expect pressure for a change of course to build until the beginning of U.S. troop withdrawals scheduled for July 2011. The Post reports that a Monday meeting of the White House national security team led to a decision to agree to Pres. Karzai’s demand for greater control over corruption investigations; but it is unclear what distinction will be made between "what amount and what type of corruption feeds the Taliban and undercuts our capacity and any Afghan government's capacity to govern" versus what is judged to be “culturally endemic" to Afghan society. [WAPO]

Afghanistan — Remainders

  • Central Bank Regulators Ignored Repeated Warnings About Kabul Bank Irregularities [NYT]
  • Members of US Platoon Under Trial Accused of Killing Civilians for Sport [WAPO] [WAPO]
  • US Troops Push Into Rural Kandahar [WAPO]
  • Indiana Town Reflects Growing US Skepticism About Afghan War [WAPO]
  • Report: Afghan NGO Safety Office Report August 16-31 [ANSO]
  • Commentary: Gardez on E-Day - “Even if it turns out that the number of [security] incidents was as high as in 2009 countrywide, it looks as if it barely interrupted the electoral process more than temporarily in few areas.” [Thomas Ruttig, AAN]