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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid