News Summary, Oct 24

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Update: the ECC delists the winning candidate in Herat for failing to resign his government post; disgruntled candidates take IEC officials hostage in western Ghor, while another group plans to issue a declaration demanding action over their complaints about the election. More talk about talks: The NYT  says Iran is trying to buy influence, while the Telegraph says the Northern Alliance, fearing a Taliban return to power, are preparing to rearm.

Afghanistan – Election

  • ECC The Electoral Complaints Commission has delisted the top winning candidate of Herat Province, Hajji Nisar Ahmad Faizi Ghoryani, for failing to resign from his government position. Ghoryani won 17,906 votes in the preliminary results for the 2010 Wolesi Jirga elections. [DI]
  • Disgruntled candidates Parliamentary candidates who locked up Independent Election Commission (IEC) officials in western Ghor province, have called off their protest. Provincial police convinced representatives of the candidates late Saturday to end their demonstration by promising to share their complaints and evidence with IEC officials. An organisation called the Federation of Afghan Walesi Jirga Candidates 2010 has called a press conference on Monday Oct 25 to convey their concerns about the elections. It will issue a declaration "to demand the ECC, the government of Afghanistan, UN, the international community and concerned bodies to take committed actions against these charges to ensure the growth of democracy and cheerful future of the Afghan Nation." It does not detail what its concerns are. [Pajhwok] [media advisory]
  • IEC crash Three Independent Election Commission (IEC) staffers were killed and three others injured in a car crash in the capital of western Herat province on Sunday. The accident took place on the Guzargah Avenue at 2pm when a van carrying IEC staff crashed into a trailer, killing two female workers and injuring four others. [Pajhwok]
  • NPR Preliminary results from the country's parliamentary election show widespread fraud, and there is more speculation about talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Plus, war continues in the south of the country. Host Liane Hansen talks with NPR's Jackie Northam in Afghanistan. [NPR] (Audio)

Afghanistan – Security, Politics and Diplomacy

  • Talks: As Afghanistan's neighbors jockey for position amid frequent reports of meetings between Afghan officials and insurgents, Iranian officials have been handing bundles of cash to Hamid Karzai's chief of staff as part of an effort to gain influence in Afghanistan and sideline Nato, according to Afghan and Western sources in Kabul, the New York Times reports. Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has again downplayed reports of talks, saying that recent contacts between the Afghan government and Taliban leaders don’t rise to the level of peace negotiations. The Northern Alliance is preparing to rearm old militias out of fear that their Taliban enemies are on the brink of a return to power in Kabul. [Telegraph] [Bloomberg] [Telegraph]
  • Security Four suicide bombers armed with weapons launched an unprecedented attack on a UN office in western Herat province on Saturday, penetrating the heavily-guarded compound. The United Nations vowed on Sunday to continue its mission in western Afghanistan. [Pajhwok] [Pajhwok]
  • Kabul While insurgent violence has expanded steadily throughout the country, Kabul has remained relatively quiet since May, when a suicide bomber drove into a small military convoy in Kabul, killing 18 people, including four high-ranking NATO officers. [McClatchy]
  • Defense Contractor Decree President Hamid Karzai has firmly rejected a joint request from US, British and German ambassadors to extend the deadline for disbanding private security firms in the country, his office said on Sunday. At a special meeting, President Karzai told the foreign officials that the private security companies had established a parallel government in the war-torn country, something he would not allow. AFP, however, reported that Karzai had "signalled his willingness to backtrack on a blanket ban on all private security firms, asking the foreign community for a list of projects needing protection." [Pajhwok] [AFP] [Reuters]