News / Asia

    Obama Warns Afghan Candidates

    FILE - Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani (left) at press conference on July 5, 2014. Rival presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah at a press conference at his residence on July 6, 2014.  FILE - Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani (left) at press conference on July 5, 2014. Rival presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah at a press conference at his residence on July 6, 2014.
    x
    FILE - Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani (left) at press conference on July 5, 2014. Rival presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah at a press conference at his residence on July 6, 2014.
    FILE - Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani (left) at press conference on July 5, 2014. Rival presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah at a press conference at his residence on July 6, 2014.
    Victor Beattie

    President Obama has intervened in Afghanistan’s disputed presidential election urging the two candidates to shun violent or extra-constitutional means or face a cut-off of U.S. assistance.  U.S. officials, while acknowledging serious fraud allegations, are calling for quick implementation of auditing measures to pave the way for a new, legitimate government and a post-NATO bilateral security agreement.

    Obama, speaking with former Afghan foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah Monday and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Tuesday, stressed the United States expects a thorough review of all reasonable allegations of fraud from the June 14 runoff vote.  He called on all parties to avoid steps that undermine Afghanistan’s national unity, saying there is no justification for resorting to “violent or extra-constitutional means” and warning that would result in an end of U.S. assistance to Kabul.

    U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki says such a cut-off of aid is not considered a threat.

    "That statement was in response to the fact that there have been reports on the ground of plans to declare victory, to create a parallel government.  Both of those steps would be illegal.  And, it’s not a threat.  It’s a fact that certainly we wouldn’t be able to provide the kind of support that is our preference to provide if those types of steps were taken," she said.

    Stalemate

    The Special U.S. Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, James Dobbins, says Afghanistan has made tremendous progress over the past 13 years and describes the idea of a parallel presidency as destructive.  In an interview with VOA, the diplomat said the United States wants to see the stalemate between the two candidates resolved and political discussions between the parties to continue.  He said  Washington and its partners would not be able to support a divided Afghanistan at odds with itself.  

    FILE - U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins talks to media, in New Delhi, India ,June 27, 2013FILE - U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins talks to media, in New Delhi, India ,June 27, 2013
    x
    FILE - U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins talks to media, in New Delhi, India ,June 27, 2013
    FILE - U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins talks to media, in New Delhi, India ,June 27, 2013

    "Clearly if either or both of these efforts fail Afghanistan would be badly divided and this would have a very deleterious affect on the prospect for peace and prosperity in that country and for the continued commitment of, not just the United States, but the entire international community," said Dobbins.

    Preliminary results from the run-off election have Abdullah losing to Ashraf Ghani by one million votes.  But, Abdullah said Tuesday he is the winner "without any doubt," and vowed to never accept what he called a "fraudulent government."
     
    RAND Corporation South Asia analyst Jonah Blank says, from Abdullah’s perspective, this is not an unreasonable position to take:

    "He feels as if he lost the 2009 election due to fraud, and he feels he bowed out in 2009 for the good of the country," he said. "In this case, he also feels that he is losing on the basis of fraud and he’s doing everything that he can to change the narrative to avoid, as he sees it, a victory for him that was snatched away by fraud."

    Fraud investigation

    Jen Psaki says Afghanistan’s electoral commission and the complaints commission need to examine all such allegations of fraud.

    "There are serious allegations.  They need to be looked into.  There needs to be a review of all the ballots that may or may not be legitimate," she said. "There are also some U.N. proposals that we think the electoral body should be working with them on.  And, at the same time, the candidates and their supporters need to be in conversations with each other about the formation of a government of national unity and a government that includes all of the relevant parties and important groups.  And, we feel both of those steps are important moving forward."

    US diplomacy

    There are reports that Secretary of State John Kerry, currently in Beijing for a U.S./China Economic and Strategic Dialogue, may travel to Kabul Friday.  Dobbins said Kerry will want to meet with both candidates and try to work with them to see whether both the formal process of examining the ballots and determining the results of the election can go forward in a mutually agreed fashion.

    FILE - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, June 25, 2014.FILE - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, June 25, 2014.
    x
    FILE - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, June 25, 2014.
    FILE - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, June 25, 2014.

    As for a bilateral security agreement yet to be signed by the United States and Afghanistan, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Tuesday the BSA must be signed by September or maintaining a force beyond 2014 when the NATO combat mission ends will be problematic.  White House spokesman John Earnest said the agreement is in the best interest of both American national security and the people of Afghanistan:

    "For them to sign this agreement, the election needs to be concluded, and because of the concerns that have been raised about fraud, the conclusion of that election is being drawn out a bit," he said. "Fortunately, there is in place a series of procedures to adjudicate concerns about fraud, and we have sought through diplomatic channels to encourage both sides to allow that process to work.  And, we’re hopeful that both candidates and their supporters will continue to support that process as it moves forward."

    Security arrangements

    Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby Tuesday said the electoral dispute is not affecting the US/Afghan security relationship.

    FILE - Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby gives a news briefing at the Pentagon, June 13, 2014.FILE - Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby gives a news briefing at the Pentagon, June 13, 2014.
    x
    FILE - Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby gives a news briefing at the Pentagon, June 13, 2014.
    FILE - Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby gives a news briefing at the Pentagon, June 13, 2014.

    "This is the first democratic transition of power in Afghanistan’s history," he said. "It’s historic on an epic scale.  And, yes, there are complications.  We’re certainly monitoring that and watching that, and encouraging both candidates to let the process continue.  It doesn’t do anybody any good to threaten violence.  We want to get a complete audit of the votes, the second round returns before any kind of formal announcement is made one way or the other.  We’re not picking sides here.  The only side we’re on is the side of the Afghan people, and I think we just need to keep focused on that.  And, there’s absolutely no change in our commitment to the peaceful, stable future of Afghanistan."

    Diplomat James Dobbins says, while he would have preferred withholding the election’s preliminary results until further audit measures were in place, he urges both candidates to quickly accept proposed UN auditing measures so the process can be completed in time for an August 2nd inauguration of Afghanistan’s next president.  He says what is crucial is a legitimate election result and a government that represents the major elements of Afghan society.

    You May Like

    Beijing Warns Critics Over South China Sea Dispute

    Official warns critics that the more they challenge China's position regarding disputed territories in one of world’s busiest waterways, the more it will push back

    Will New Russian Force Be 'Putin’s Personal Army'?

    With broad powers to control riots, suppress dissent, National Guard may be aimed at sending a message to West as much as keeping peace at home

    Foreign Media in Pyongyang Barred From North Korean Party Congress

    Hundreds of international journalists invited to cover historic party meeting barred from entering actual event

    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.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora