News Summary, Oct 2 am
In this update: Some compelling first-hand reports of the election and its aftermath mix with some interesting analysis of the first IEC returns from the Afghan Analysts’ Network. The block of convoys through Pakistan continues.
Afghanistan – Election
- Fraud in Farah? NPR’s Quil Lawrence looks at the election in Purchaman, in Farah province. “Purchaman district had about 20,000 registered voters, and in an election with mediocre attendance nationwide, preliminary reports say that 100 percent, or maybe closer to 150 percent, voted in the elections… One of the candidates who won in Purchaman though he has never set foot there is the brother of President Hamid Karzai's deputy national security adviser.” [NPR]
- Fraud, intimidation in Wardak Anand Gopal writes of intimidation, low turnout and ballot stuffing in Wardak. “Just go back to Kabul,” [one candidate] advised me. “If you are looking for voters, you are not going to find them here.” [New Republic]
- Low turnout Analysis of result sheets published in four districts in Khost, a province on the Pakistani border, confirm fears of low turnout, with less than 100 votes in two thirds of the polling centers. The report, by the Afghan Analysts’ Network, also raises questions about hand-altered tally sheets, something it says it would be better “to have election specialists look at. [AAN]
- Fraud disputed Ahmad Wali Karzai, brother of President Hamid Karzai, writes a riposte to the NYT’s Extensive Fraud Appears to Mar Afghan Election, in which lawmakers and opposition candidates accused him of “fixing the elections for a list of favored candidates.” He writes: “Their accusation is preposterous. Fixing the Afghan election is impossible, even if someone were foolish enough to try. It is a vote based not on political parties but on tribal alliances. Candidates ran representing their tribes. Their opponents were from the same tribe. Those who lost — and now blame me for their defeat — were beaten simply because they did not have the support of their own tribe.” [NYT]
Afghanistan — Security
- Convoy block Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has disputed Pakistani officials' account that the border was closed, saying that traffic was still going through but "moving more slowly." "It's inconceivable to me that the closing of the routes -- the alleged closing, which is not a full closing anyway -- would continue more than a short period of time," Holbrooke told a forum in Washington. With the block continuing, some are looking to the South Caucasus as a way to boost capacity. "All sorts of people are ready and waiting to do the work. We just have to make a decision to do more through the Black Sea," Richard Douglas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for counter-narcotics, counter-proliferation and global threats, told AOL News. "It's not exotic science." [AOL] [AfPak] [AfPak] [AFP]
- Peace council Here’s a full list of the members of the 68 members of President Karzai's High Peace Council, formed to negotiate with the Taliban and announced earlier this week.
- Two Talibans? David Rohde, a New York Times journalist who was kidnapped in Afghanistan and held captive there and in Pakistan for seven months ending in June 2009, says the lines between the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban are not as clear cut in the border mountains as they are in strategic planning sessions in world capitals. "When I was in my captivity, I saw that the two groups worked seamlessly together. This differentiation between Afghan and Pakistani Taliban is really a false one. We were held in Pakistani Taliban areas and then Afghan Taliban areas, and the cooperation was seamless," he said. [VOA]
- Civil war? Afghanistan risks fracturing along bloody ethnic lines if President Hamid Karzai continues misguided efforts to reach out to the Taleban, the country's former spymaster Amrullah Saleh warns. [Scotsman]
Democracy International – Mentions
This section includes mentions of Democracy International in the media and elsewhere. Including them here does not indicate that DI approves or confirms the views expressed
- “It's somewhat hopeful as security was marginally better than last year (especially at the polling centers themselves, if not on roads to and from the polling centers) and the rules were somewhat clearer than last year, and with more of a belt-and-suspenders approach to discourage systematic fraud.” DI long term observer Paul Freeman talks to his local paper, the Orange County Register, about his time and the election in Uruzgan.