News Summary, Oct 27

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Update: Local media carries reports of, and responses to, comments by President Hamid Karzai about the election, as well as reports of continuing protests in Herat—this time by a winning candidate who was disqualified for failing to resign his government post.

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.

Jeremy Wagstaff
Democracy International

Afghanistan – Election

  • IEC and ECC: We would not do anything based on Political Considerations  8 am, Dari daily, Oct 27, 2010 Both the IEC and the ECC have responded to Karzai’s concerns about the result of the elections and have stated that they would not do anything due to political expediency. Earlier Karzai had stated that in “some constituencies people’s representatives have been unable to get elected.” He had named Ghazni province in particular where he had said that about 12 districts in the province have been deprived of their representatives in the parliament. Therefore, Mr. Karzai had asked the IEC and the ECC “to take the question of national unity and national interests seriously in Ghazni and other provinces where the election had not been held properly and the people have been deprived of their right to vote.” Moreover Karzai has asked the IEC and the ECC to “fix the flaws in the election result.”
    Mr. Karzai has not explained what he means by “flaws in the election result.” But most probably he is referring to the fact that in Ghazni all of the eleven wining candidates are Hazaras and no Pashtun candidate have been able to get elected.
    Mr. Manawi has stated that the “political aspect of the issue belongs to us.” He has stated that if in some provinces candidates from certain ethnic groups have been unable to get elected, it might not be good for national unity. The IEC might take some decision about this according to electoral laws. But there have not been any decision taken yet. However, he states the IEC would “not take decisions due to political considerations.”
    The ECC spokesperson Ahmad Zia Rafat has stated that the “ECC understands Mr. Karzai’s concerns.” But he states that the ECC is committed to follow and respect the law. All our decisions would be according to the spirit of the law and we would not do anything for any reason that is against the electoral laws.


  • What is Right? And who defines it? (Editorial) 8 am, Dari daily, Oct 27, 2010 Karzai’s displeasure with the election results and his recommendation for the ECC and the IEC to fix the “flaws” in it has created a problem for both commissions.
    Karzai has asked the IEC and the ECC to do something about provinces where the election has not taken place properly and people's representatives have been unable to get elected. It seems Karzai is referring to the overwhelming victory of Hazara candidates in certain constituencies. However, Mr. Karzai is forgetting that according to electoral laws every province is an electoral constituency. Anyone getting elected from a province is representative of all the people in that province regardless of their ethnicity. If it was otherwise, the electoral constituencies should have been drawn according to ethnic lines. The president himself got elected in a multi-ethnic country and is president of everyone regardless of their ethnic background. The same could be true about peoples’ representatives in parliament. Ethnic considerations and representing people based on ethnicity is against the spirit of democracy and is in contradiction with the laws of the land.


  • Where are our votes?: The continuation of People’s Protest in Herat 8 am, Dari daily, Oct 27, 2010 The city of Herat has seen continuous protests and demonstrations from candidates and their supporters who claim that their votes have been lost. The most recent demonstration was held by Nisar Ahmad Ghoryani and his supporters. In this protest hundreds of citizens from Herat gathered in front of Herat’s provincial headquarters to demonstrate against the electoral authorities.
    Mr. Ghoryani who has been delisted from the list of winning candidates because he had been unable to resign from his government post on time was among the demonstrators. Mr. Ghoryani presented documents and evidence of the fact that he had resigned from his government position at the ministry of water and energy resources at its due time. The demonstrators accused the IEC for misusing its authority and the ECC for its treachery with the votes of the people. 
  • Hundreds won fewer than 99 votes Hundreds of parliamentary candidates received fewer than 100 votes each in the election, casting doubt, Pajhwok suggests on the authenticity of the 1,000 voter cards each submitted to the election body to quality for running. In the preliminary results released on October 20, 262 candidates, including 41 women, out of 2,500 managed to secure between four and 99 votes. [Pajhwok]

  • Kandahar Matthieu Aikins and Gran Hewad look at the preliminary results in Helmand, expressing concern at the impending election "of an extremely dubious slate of parliamentary candidates, one that underscores how tenuous the connection is between the people of Kandahar and their government."  [AAN]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Military Operations: The Post, citing classified military and intelligence assessments being prepared in the run-up to the administration’s December strategy review, reports the current military campaign has failed to inflict anything more than “fleeting setbacks” on the insurgency, which is “maintaining its resilience” primarily thanks to their safe haven in Pakistan. Taliban commanders captured or killed are said to be often replaced “in a matter of days”. NATO reported Wednesday that a NATO soldier had been killed in northern Afghanistan but did not give further details. In Farah, two suicide attackers stormed the house of the head of the provincial National Directorate of Security intelligence service, killing one guard; the official was not present. Also in Farah officials report that nine NATO supply vehicles were torched while en route to Herat from Kandahar; no casualties were reported. [WAPO] [BBC] [TOLO] [TOLO]
  • Security Contractors: A statement from Pres. Karzai’s office today announced the establishment of a committee headed by the Ministry of Interior to develop a plan for the phase-out of private security companies and the continued protection of development projects by Nov 15, after which companies will have ninety days to dissolve their operations, an effective three-month extension from the original mid-December deadline. The overall shape of the ban would remain in place, however, with exceptions granted only for diplomatic missions. In the event that the ban takes place, “it’s not sure where the police will come from yet” to replace the contractors Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary admits to the AP, “but there is a plan.” [AJE] [AP] [BBC] [Karzai Statement]

Afghanistan – Politics and Diplomacy

  • Aid Oversight: The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction issued two new audits yesterday; an assessment of more than $100 million in aid to Nangahar province found development programs were “incoherent” and lacked mechanisms to avoid wasteful overlap or coordinate with the Afghan government. A second assessment found that the recruitment of a “civilian surge” was being undercut by reliance on "ad hoc arrangements and individual personalities" rather than any agreed standards for the diplomatic corps there. A third audit, not yet released but excerpted by McClatchy and the AP, found shoddy construction by an Afghan company charged with building police stations in Helmand and Kandahar had resulted in buildings so poor in quality that they could not be occupied. [WAPO] [AP] [McClatchy] [SIGAR Nangahar Audit (pdf)] [SIGAR Civilian Surge Audit (pdf)]
  • Russia: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that several proposals for joint NATO-Russia initiatives in Afghanistan will be on the table at a NATO summit scheduled for next month. Though there is “no plan to reintroduce Russian troops into Afghanistan”, Russia may provide as many as twenty helicopters and training for their use at an unspecified location outside the country. [Reuters] [Guardian]

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • Inquiry Finds Two-Thirds of UK-Inflicted Civilian Casualties Caused by Three Units [Guardian]
  • Qureshi Meets UNAMA’s De Mistura Over Taliban Talks [ET]
  • Can Iraq-Style Militias Tackle the Taliban? [TIME]
  • US Army Amasses Biometric Data in Afghanistan [Guardian]
  • Treasury Designates Two Afghan Drug Traffickers as Terrorists [WSJ]
  • Mines Minister Touts Mineral Potentials [Reuters] [Bloomberg]
  • GOP Midterm Wins, Tea Party Candidates Could Upset Domestic Politics on Afghanistan [Politico] [WSJ]
  • Gorbachev: NATO Victory in Afghanistan is Impossible [BBC]
  • Report: Afghan Media in 2010 [Altai Consulting]
  • Report: Afghan NGO Safety Office Report Oct 1-15 [ANSO]
  • Commentary: What Are India’s Interests in Afghanistan? – “India's interests in Afghanistan are not only Pakistan-specific but equally, if not more importantly, tied to India's desire to be and to be seen as an extra-regional power moving toward great power status.” [Christine Fair, AfPak Channel]
  • Commentary: More Airstrikes Won’t Help Afghanistan – “If military and policy leaders acted on those flawed assumptions as Dunlap suggests, by lifting airstrike restrictions, it would not only put more Afghan lives at risk, but would erode any progress that has been made in the last year.” [Erica Gaston, AfPak Channel]

Democracy International

Our chief of mission, Alessandro Parziale, will be appearing on Friday in Madrid at a discussion on the election hosted by FRIDE and the Toledo International Centre for Peace (CITpax). The debate—in English--will centre on Europe’s role – in particular that of EUPOL, the EU’s police mission in the Asian country, and that of the international forces under NATO command (ISAF) – in Afghanistan’s reconstruction, and the unfolding scenario following the recent Afghan elections.

Talking of Spain, two Spanish outlets mentioned one of our short term observers, Gabriel Reyes. Here are the links and a short summaries in English.

  • Fraud invalidates a quarter of the votes of the Afghan elections Only on the third attempt did the Afghanistan Independent Electoral Commission appear before the media to provide preliminary results of the Wolesi Jirga Elections. After more than a month of counting the IEC announced the cancellation of a quarter of the votes considered fraudulent (1.3 million ballots in a final holding of 5.6 million people), figures which confirm the difficulties facing this type of process in a country like Afghanistan and which delve into the open wound of the the 2009 presidential election in which Hamid Karzai was reelected despite of massive fraud.
    Quotation from our observer:  This is precisely Afghanistan positive note include election observers in the country last month as the Spanish Gabriel Reyes, who was part of the mission of Democracy International, which believes that "fraud was assumed, but the difference between 2009 and today is that at least the Independent Electoral Commission appears to be doing their job, like the Election Complaints Commission, which represents a positive note for the future. " [ABC]
  • Negotiations with the Taliban open the way for the withdrawal from Afghanistan "Talking to the Taliban does not mean that Hamid Karzai will deliver the government. This is breaking the cycle of violence, ending the insurgency and make them part of the system. " Imtiaz Gul, a political analyst and author of "The Most Dangerous Place" (book about life on the Af-Pak border), reports from Islamabad on the day of the contacts between the Taliban and Afghan government.
    Quotation from our observer: At the beginning, the dialog with the insurgents was based on very specific issues," says project coordinator in the Middle East Program and the Mediterranean Toledo International Centre for Peace (CITpax), Gabriel Reyes, who adds that "Karzai's strategy now is to increase the evolvement of former regime elements and gradually include them into the institutional system. This is the last step in integrating the ones that remain outside." [ABC]