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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More