News

    Afghanistan's Karzai Holds Firm Lead in Disputed Vote

    Nearly complete but still preliminary - and controversial - results show Afghanistan's incumbent as the winner in the country's presidential election. However, President Hamid Karzai is going to have a difficult time claiming a legitimate victory and his closest challenger is not ready to concede.

    In another trickle of preliminary results released by election commissioners, President Karzai retains his firm lead with more than 54 percent of the ballots. Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah has 28 percent. Out of the 5.8 million votes deemed valid so far, the incumbent has three million while the top challenger has just more than half that amount. Other candidates are far behind with about 95 percent of all ballots tallied.

    United Nations spokesman Aleem Siddque in Kabul tells VOA News that it is premature, however, to judge the outcome.

    "The game is far from over. There are no winners in this election yet. There have been over 2,000 complaints made during this electoral process. And it's imperative that those complaints are thoroughly investigated before any provisional results can be finalized," said  Siddque.

    That means a resolution is weeks - or possibly, months, away. The U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission may end up putting into quarantine hundreds of thousands of ballots until the major allegations stemming from the August 20 election are resolved.

    Asked at a press conference in Kabul why the criteria for quarantined votes has changed from 600 per ballot box to more than 1,000,  chief electoral officer Daoud Ali Najafi says the ECC just made this decision and the Afghan government's Independent Election Commission agreed to it.

    "Tomorrow morning the IEC (Independent Election Commission) and ECC will meet together to establish a procedure to implement the decision," he said.

    A delay in the final vote count is raising fears of further instability in a country already divided by a Taliban insurgency and smoldering ethnic tensions.

    Staying in power, at least for the mean time, is President Karzai. He enjoys support from his fellow Pashtuns, the country's largest ethnic group.

    Abdullah, of Tajik and Pashtun descent, is backed by Tajiks.

    If election authorities invalidate enough ballots to bring President Karzai's total below a majority then he and Abdullah would face each other in a run-off. But that would have to happen quickly before snow fall would make many areas inaccessible for the winter.

    The political uncertainty comes as Afghanistan faces its worst violence since the invasion that ousted the Taliban in late 2001.

    Officials say a roadside bomb in Uruzgan province, apparently meant to target Afghan and foreign troops, struck two passenger cars Saturday killing 14 civilians. Another such explosion in Kandahar province killed six civilians.

    Also in Kandahar two Taliban suicide bombers attacked a government intelligence office killing one agent.

    In the northern part of Kunduz province, the U.S. military says, an overnight raid by Afghan and coalition forces killed 11 militants who were in possession of bomb-making material and rocket-propelled grenades.


    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.