News / Asia

    Rival Says Karzai Brother to Withdraw From Afghan Presidential Race

    Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (C) speaks as candidates Abdullah Abdullah (R) and Qayum Karzai (L) listen during the presidential election debate at the studio of a local TV channel in Kabul, Feb. 8, 2014.
    Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (C) speaks as candidates Abdullah Abdullah (R) and Qayum Karzai (L) listen during the presidential election debate at the studio of a local TV channel in Kabul, Feb. 8, 2014.
    Reuters
    The Afghan president's brother is preparing to withdraw from the presidential elections according to a rival candidate, former Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul, who said late on Tuesday the two were planning an alliance and would join forces soon.

    “We are in discussions about how we can join together, we have not reached yet a final result, but it is on the way,” Rassoul said in an interview on the sidelines of a debate.

    “Our negotiation is not finalized ... but you will know very soon,” he said.

    With just one month to go until the vote on April 5, just three candidates appeared for Tuesday's televised debate on foreign policy, broadcast by Afghanistan's most popular channel.

    Back-room negotiations

    The incumbent's brother, Qayum Karzai, widely seen as one of the front-runners, unexpectedly failed to show, fueling speculation that behind closed doors a fresh round of furious horse trading is setting the stage for the vote.

    Rassoul and Karzai both belong to the same majority Pashtun ethnic group as the president, and an alliance between leading Pashtun candidates has been the focus of heated speculation in the capital as the election approaches.

    If all goes according to plan, the vote will mark the country's first democratic transfer of power. The incumbent president, Hamid Karzai, is constitutionally barred from running for a third term.

    The main opposition candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, who dropped out of a runoff against Karzai in the 2009 election, citing concerns about fraud, said he was not concerned about rivals joining forces. His base of support is in the Tajik community, mostly scattered across the north of the country.

    “I also hear that there are negotiations between the candidates. ... I am not concerned at all,” Abdullah said on the sidelines of the debate. “I think the more they get together, the happier I will be; it will be a more clear-cut campaign.”

    American-style TV debates are something of a novelty in Afghanistan, where much of the country still has limited access to electricity and more than a third live below the national poverty line, according to the World Bank.

    More televised debates

    In major cities like the capital Kabul, though, members of a more affluent class of Afghans say the debates are useful.

    “I usually watch these debates. I like to know who has practical plans for the future of Afghanistan,” said Saleh Mohammad, a 23-year-old shopkeeper in Kabul.

    He was skeptical, though, of promises aired on television. “Most of their future plans are not based on the current situation, they are ... presenting false or impractical plans.”

    To others in more remote areas, the debates are less of a concern.

    “Where I live, there is no TV or radio to watch or listen to them,” said Haji Janan,  a farmer in southern Kandahar province.

    Janan said insecurity prevented campaigners from reaching his district and he only saw pictures of the candidates in Kandahar city.

    A fifth favorite to win also was absent, but the former Islamist warlord Abdul Rassoul Sayyaf has previously made a point of shunning TV debates in favor of campaign rallies.

    The white-bearded and famously skilled orator presents himself as a bridge between warring factions, but his conservative views alarm women fearful of a rollback of hard-won rights.

    Additionally, his reputation for having invited Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida to Afghanistan makes him a particularly unpopular choice in the West.

    You May Like

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    China Seeks On-Off Switch for Internet

    Public asks whose security is cybersecurity law aiming to protect

    UN Human Rights Chief: Burundi May Explode Into Ethnic Violence

    Burundian government accuses the UN of a campaign of distortion

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora