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

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs