News Summary, Oct 28

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Update: The ECC disqualifies more candidates and annuls more polling stations. The IEC comes under scrutiny for its decision to cancel votes from hundreds of polling centers, while commentaries talk of the Wolesi Jirga being filled with warlords.

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

  • ECC disqualifies two winning candidates The Electoral Complaints Commission annulled 36 more polling stations for Ghor, Herat, Zabul, Kabul, Kunduz, Khost and Uruzgan provinces, as well as disqualifying two successful candidates in the preliminary results for Sar-i-Pul and Baghlan provinces because they failed to resign their positions in the Defense Ministry. So far, the ECC said, it had received 5,971 complaints; 2,500 of these complaints are identified as A type complaints and 70% of these complaints have already been adjudicated by the ECC. [DI] [Pajhwok]
  • FEFA: The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, the country’s largest domestic election observer organization, expressed concerns at apparent discrepancies between initial figures from the IEC that estimated approximately 4.5 million votes had been cast in the September parliamentary election, and final figures that showed 5.6 million votes, approximately a quarter of which were invalidated. The Electoral Complaints Commission said it would announce on Thursday the removal of an unspecified number of preliminary winning candidates from the list for electoral law violations, primarily a failure to resign official government posts. The Christian Science Monitor says the elections show “a new generation of Afghan warlords” that has attained wealth and power through NATO security and reconstruction contracts is replacing the old guard. [Reuters] [TOLO] [CSM] [Pajhwok]
  • Legitimacy, not ethnic considerations An editorial in Mandegar, a Dari daily, on Oct 28, 2010: (summary) The government’s position that asks the two electoral commissions to accommodate the election results based on ethnic consideration is in complete contradiction with all civic and democratic values. If the IEC under pressure from government takes into account the false considerations and the government’s illegitimate demands, this would seriously damage the concept of democracy in this country and eliminate any legitimacy left for the electoral process, parliament and the parliamentary politics. [Mandegar]
  • The Perverse Conduct of the ECC and Wasting People’s Votes (editorial) Oct 28, 2010: (summary) The ECC has decided to cancel the votes of other successful candidates also. This conduct of the ECC is unreasonable since it is creating mistrust among the people towards the electoral process. Dealing in a transparent and just manner with the electoral complaints is a necessary precondition for guaranteeing to hold a fair and transparent elections and also earning people’s trust towards the electoral process. However, if this process itself is conducted in un-transparent and unreasonable manner it is going to damage the status of election in the eyes of the populace. The debate is not about either this or that candidate has been involved in any wrong doing or not? It is about this that the ECC should deal with electoral complaints in a manner that the people’s votes should not be wasted. Moreover, it should be emphasized that it was IEC’s responsibility to have conducted the electoral process in a way so that the undeserving people should not have been able to enter into the race. This should have happened at a time that the people should have known that their votes would not be wasted and would have voted for the candidates of their choice. Why is the IEC unable to make sure that the people that are registering with them as candidates have completed all the necessary requirements for running in the elections--including making sure that they have resigned from their government positions on time? This situation tells us that the electoral system should be devised in a way that no undeserving candidates should be able to run. And the final list of candidates should be final before the Election Day so that people’s votes are not wasted. [8 am]
  • No surprise? Deutsche Welle's Afghan service head, Ratbil Shamel, writes in a commentary that no one in Afghanistan is surprised at the preliminary results of the Wolesi Jirga election: "Now the secret, which never was one, is out. The Wolesi Jirga, Afghanistan’s lower house, will continue to be run by the country’s warlords over the next five years. Former mujahedin leaders and their allies have won in almost all the constituencies. Even in Kabul, a city which at the beginning of the 1990s was almost completely destroyed by the battles between the various mujahedin groupings, the picture is the same. " [DW]
  • A surprise? Lauren Soelberg of the Center for Strategic and International Studies writes that despite the anticipated violence and fraud that marred the election, there were some surprising results: "So far, the IEC has announced that 72 Members of Parliament have been reelected, while a staggering 177 are first time MPs. What does this say about the electoral process? It is surprising that the incumbents were not re-elected simply out of apathy or ignorance. Are the Afghan people trying to show that they care about the democratic institution of elections? Or that they are unhappy with their current government? Either way, it somewhat resembles progress in this new Democracy, and can offer at least a kernel of hope." [CSIS]

Afghanistan – Security

  • Trilateral Relations: Afghan national security advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta pressed the U.S. to push Pakistan harder to crack down on militant forces operating from its territory at a closed-door strategy session in Kabul earlier this week, the WSJ reports; Amb. Holbrooke is said to have pushed back, saying "we will not achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan until Pakistan plays a positive and contributive role here." Officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the U.S. met at the Torkham border crossing to discuss security and NATO supply lines, GEO reports, but has few details about the participants or the discussions. [WSJ] [GEO]
  • Coalition Partners: French Defense Minister Herve Morin told reporters Thursday that his country aims to transfer security responsibilities to Afghan forces in Surobi district, outside Kabul, during 2011; he said there was “absolutely no link” between his statements and an audio call from Osama bin Laden on France to withdraw from the country or face attacks. [Reuters] [CNN] [TOLO]

Afghanistan – Economics and Development

  • Contract Oversight: The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction released another audit yesterday focusing on $17.7 billion in assistance programs from 2007-2009, which found a “confusing labyrinth” of spending by the Pentagon, State Department and USAID, who were “unable to readily report on how much money they spend on contracting for reconstruction activities in Afghanistan” and whose efforts are not coordinated between one another or within the department’s multiple internal offices. Data prior to 2007 was “too poor to be analyzed”. [BBC] [Reuters] [McClatchy] [SIGAR Report (pdf)]

Afghanistan – Remainders

  • More Reports on Yesterday’s Karzai Contractor Ban Delay [NYT] [WAPO] [AP]
  • Roadside Bomb Targets Zabul District Police Chief [AP]
  • Afghan Security Personnel Fear U.S. Departure [IWPR]
  • Roof Collapse in Baghlan Kills 65 People at Wedding Party [AP] [Reuters] [TOLO]
  • War is Remote at Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor [NYT]
  • Commentary: Turning the Taliban Against Al Qaeda – “The problem now, for the Taliban leaders, the Afghan government, its Western backers and Pakistan, is that the main “success” of the recent surge — killing thousands of Taliban foot soldiers and midlevel commanders — may create a whirlwind that no one will be able to control.” [Scott Atran, NYT]