afghan gov’ment says elections first

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by rahim faiez

associated press

sep. 14, 2019

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Afghan government will only consider making a “legitimate” peace with insurgents after national elections are held this month, an official told reporters on Saturday, despite the atmosphere of political uncertainty following the sudden halt in U.S.-Taliban peace talks.

President Donald Trump abruptly called off talks to end American’s longest war last week. The Afghan government was largely shut out of the negotiations and concerned that any finalized U.S.-Taliban deal would delay the elections while a national unity government was formed, forcing the exit of President Ashraf Ghani.

“Nothing will impede the presidential election from happening,” said the Afghan presidential spokesman, Sediq Seddiq

He said that a peace deal with the Taliban could only come after holding the presidential election scheduled for Sept. 28. “Legitimacy of peace cannot be achieved without elections,” he said.

Sediqqi also suggested that there will be a “big change” toward improving security across the country ahead of the voting and fears over more violence. The Taliban, who consider the Afghan government a U.S. puppet, have warned Afghans not to vote and that polling stations will be targets.

Sediqqi pointed to a Taliban delegation’s visit to Russia, just days after Trump called off talks, to say the insurgents are faced with a “political failure” of their own. He added that the Taliban should hold talks directly with the Afghan government — which they have refused to do — rather than foreign powers.

On Friday, a Taliban negotiating team visited Russia, where they held consultations with Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for Afghanistan.

The Interfax news agency cited an unidentified Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying the meeting underlined the necessity of renewing talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, and that the Taliban confirmed their readiness to continue dialogue with Washington.

It was the Taliban’s first international visit following the collapse of talks with Washington. The team was led by Mullah Sher Mohammad Stanikzai.

Trump tweeted Saturday that the Taliban was being hit hard militarily in the wake of the U.S. pulling out of negotiations following the death of a U.S. soldier.

“The Taliban has never been hit harder than it is being hit right now,” he said. “Killing 12 people, including one great American soldier, was not a good idea. There are much better ways to set up a negotiation. The Taliban knows they made a big mistake, and they have no idea how to recover!”

Moscow has twice this year hosted meetings between the Taliban and prominent Afghan personalities.

Sediqqi said that the Afghan government has suspended its own peace efforts for now. After the elections, the “progress of the peace process” would be a priority, he said…

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https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/world/article/Afghan-government-says-elections-first-peace-14439622.php

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Ahmadzai Wins Election

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by Pajhwok reporters

Pajhwok News

Sep 21, 2014

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KABUL: Following a deal between the candidates on a government of national unity, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Sunday announced the final result of the disputed presidential election.

At a brief news conference in Kabul, IEC Chairman Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani declared former finance minister Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as the winner. The announcement ends weeks of uncertainty about the future administration.

Surprisingly, Nuristani gave no vote figures, saying the results had been shared with the presidential hopefuls, who signed the agreement on power-sharing earlier in the day at the Presidential Palace.

Previously, both runners claimed winning the rigging-marred election. However, they arrived at the accord a national unity government — thanks to intervention from the United Nations and the United States of America.

According to an authoritative source, Ahmadzai has won 3935567 votes, or 55.27 percent of the ballots cast in the mid-June polls. Abdullah earned 3185018 votes according to the final tally. 

With 44.73 percent of the 7120585 votes, Abdullah trails his opponent by 755549 ballots, said one IEC official, who did not want to be named.

The source revealed the figures were not released to the media as part of an understanding reached with the commission’s international supporters, notably UNAMA.

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http://www.pajhwok.com/en/2014/09/21/it%E2%80%99s-official-ahmadzai-winner

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Electoral Deadlock Broken

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TOLO News

12 July 2014

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The Afghan election stalemate has come to an end with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry mediating a 48-hour negotiation between the two candidates and brokering a deal to audit all 8.1 million votes cast on June 14 runoff.

Addressing a joint press conference at the United Nations (UN) office in Kabul on Saturday evening, Secretary Kerry, presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai said they have reached both a technical and political deal.

Kerry said that both candidates have reached a common ground in negotiations saying that “both are determined that the votes of the people of Afghanistan are counted.”

Secretary Kerry arrived in Kabul on Friday morning after Abdullah suspended his ties with the electoral commissions and vowed to establish a parallel government.

The agreements, reached after almost two days of consistent talks, include a Kabul-based and UN monitored audit of all votes and a formation of a national unified government under the supervision of the winner immediately after the results are announced.

The audit is set to be carried out in the next 24 hours in Kabul. Ballot boxes from other provinces will be transferred by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the audits will be supervised by the UN and the candidates’ agents.

“We anticipate this process will take a number of weeks, so we and UNAMA have asked President Hamid Karzai and the elections commissions to postpone the inauguration,” Kerry said. “Both candidates have agreed to abide by the results of the audit.”

Head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš, had sent out a letter to the president emphasizing that the audit will take a considerable amount of time to conduct in which he requests,on behalf of the two candidates, that the inauguration for the new President of Afghanistan be delayed by roughly a month.

During his talk, Kerry added that the “Afghans want a democracy that works not for some, but for all.”

At the end of Kerry’s announcement, Abdullah Abdullah took to the stage thanking both the secretary and rival Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai. He went on to say and reiterate what Secretary Kerry emphasized, that the inauguration ceremony needs to be put off.

“We have a technical agreement and a framework of national unity,” Abdullah said. “I would request President Karzai to delay the inauguration date.”

The inauguration date was scheduled for August 2, in which Secretary Kerry, Abdullah and Ghani-Ahmadzai all asked the president to delay until 100 percent of the votes are completely audited.

“Our agreement is in the interest of the people,” Abdullah announced. “Regardless of whom they cast their vote for.”

Ghani-Ahmadzai, in resonance to his opponent and Secretary Kerry, asked the president to postpone the inauguration as he has committed for the thorough audits.

“Fraud has no place in our national culture and democracy,” Ghani-Ahmadzai said. “Forming a government of national unity, should assure every Afghan, regardless of who they voted for, is committed to the well being of every Afghan. I request President Karzai to postpone the inauguration.”

Ghani-Ahmadzai said that he and Abdullah will form a national unified government under the leadership of the winner.

Just as the joint press conference ended, Secretary of State and UNAMA Head made their way to the Presidential Palace for another media conference in reaction to Abdullah-Ghani agreements.

President Karzai opened the conference by confirming that concerns were raised about frauds in the runoff and how he and his vice-presidents tried to address the concerns.

“Dr. Abdullah invited the UN to mediate in the election and in order to avoid any misunderstanding, I and my vice-presidents stood away,” Karzai said. “I phone Abdullah and Ghani whether both wanted the UN mediation and I accepted it once both confirmed it.”

He did add that he wished “the election process to be Afghan-led and managed, but I accepted the UN mediation to resolve the issue.”

In response to the requests made earlier by the two candidates, the Secretary of State and UNAMA of postponing the inauguration ceremony, Karzai accepted their stance.

“I accept the postponement of the initially planned August 2 inauguration until the audit is completed,” Karzai announced. “I hope the audit takes place quickly.”

President Karzai’s agreement to remain in power for another couple of weeks after August 2 prevents a possible power vacuum in the country.

Kubiš, expressed his gratitude to the U.S. for their works in bringing the two candidates together and breaking the electoral stalemate.

“Both candidates showed true statesmanship, for a good future for Afghanistan,” Kubiš said. “The UN is here to support and provide assistance to a unique and inclusive audit.”

Kubiš thanked President Karzai for his leadership during the difficult time and praised Secretary Kerry’s role in ending the deadlock.

“Afghanistan is blessed to have such a strong partner like the US and a friend like yourself,” referring to Kerry, Kubiš said in his concluding remarks.

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http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15579-afghan-electoral-deadlock-broken

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Election Protests

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The Afghanistan Express Daily Newspaper

June 29, 2014

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Kabul, Afghanistan ~ With the electoral bodies failing to address complaints regarding concerted vote rigging, the candidates seem to be choosing other options in the dispute. On Friday, thousands of supporters of Abdullah Abdullah took to streets in downtown Kabul and demanded cleansing the people’s votes. Abdullah is boycotting the vote counting, while the electoral bodies are preparing for announcement of the preliminary results of the the elections. The street protests came as a few days ago Ashraf Ghani, finally broke his silence over the recent disputes. Ashraf Ghani defended the votes he has garnered saying that his votes were clean and he will defend them. He used harsh language after his week-long silence criticizing Dr. Abdullah for refusing the vote counting, warning that no one should promote violence and everyone should wait for the electoral bodies to decide.

Ashraf Ghani camp and the electoral bodies are now moving to push the election process forward and aim to announce the preliminary results of the elections about a week later. The move to get the election process on track without waiting for resolution of the dispute is coming at a time when the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan is trying to mediate for resolving the deadlock. Abdullah’s team is demanding explanation from the electoral bodes the real level of election turnout and how Ghani has been having unusual lead over him in some specific provinces which was suggesting there had happened vote rigging and extensive stuffing of ballot boxes. Zia-ul Haq Amrkhil’s resignation paved the way for beginning of serious talks for breaking the deadlock. Seemingly, now both teams are engaged in talks with the United Nations and the government.

However, now it seems that the electoral bodies and the Ghani camp is take pre-emptive moves for accelerating their winning which is far from being considered as fully legitimate. The only way now for resolving the election crisis is to make a political consensus with direct engagement of all stakeholders including the two campaigns, the UN and President Karzai’s government. Making tactician moves by the candidates while the issue is yet to be resolved will not be constructive as it will spur the rival campaign to take actions which might be harmful for the process. For instance, if Abdullah’s campaign moves on to street protests as a show of strength to force the electoral bodies and the government to deal with election rigging, it will further deteriorate the election stalemate and even may instigate uncontrolled violence. Abdullah’s demand the rigging must be probed transparently is a legitimate demand and all parties have no option except heeding the call.

Therefore, the electoral bodies must avoid provocative moves and wait for the mediation efforts to yield a settlement for the crisis. The Afghan government failed to guarantee a transparent and fraud-free election. Now, the best thing it can do for settling the dispute is to help the UN mediation until fraudulent votes are discarded and an acceptable deal is reached.

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http://theafghanistanexpress.com/address-the-legitimate-demands-of-protestors

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