News / Asia

Taliban Violence Threatens to Disrupt Afghan Vote

An election poster of presidential candidate Mohammad Daoud Sultanzai in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 15, 2014.
An election poster of presidential candidate Mohammad Daoud Sultanzai in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 15, 2014.
Ayaz Gul
Former Afghan defense minister Abdul Rahim Wardak has dropped out of next month's presidential election, leaving a field of nine candidates to replace outgoing President Hamid Karzai. Wardak announced Sunday he is dropping out of the race but gave no reason for his withdrawal and endorsed no other candidate for the April 5 vote.

Afghanistan's elections for president and 458 provincial councilors are slated for April 5. But Taliban threats and deadly attacks on campaign workers and election officials have worried local as well as international observers.

Since the Feb. 2 start of the campaign period, independent monitors from Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan have reported at least seven murders, one assassination attempt and several incidents of election-related violence and intimidation.

The Taliban insurgency has vowed to “use all force” to disrupt the polls and has warned Afghans not to participate in it.

Human Rights Watch has criticized as “despicable” and “unlawful” the Taliban’s threat to use violence to prevent voters from choosing a new president. The group has urged Afghan authorities to take all possible steps to protect campaign activities and voters.

An Afghan interior minister spokesman, Mohamad Najib Nikzad, says the government is fully prepared to organize free and transparent elections. He tells VOA about 400,000 Afghan soldiers and policemen are ready for deployment across the country to deter any threat to the democratic process.

The spokesman dismissed the Taliban’s threat of violence as propaganda, saying the Afghan government is not concerned and such moves will not prevent it from holding the elections.  He added that only four districts across Afghanistan face serious security threats, but steps are being taken to deal with the challenge.

While testifying before U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington last week, the top American commander in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford, also warned of an increase in the election-related violence, but said physical ability of the Afghan security forces is sufficient to deal with the security challenge.

“There is no doubt in my mind and that we know this both from our intelligence and from open source that the insurgency is focused on disrupting elections in 2014 and focused on crushing the spirit and will of the Afghan forces in 2014 because they believe that we are leaving at the end of 2014 they look at this as a very critical year," said Dunford. "So, what we expect to see are high-profile attacks to create the perception of insecurity."

The NATO-led international force will end its combat mission in December.
The fate of a smaller American military presence in Afghanistan post-2014 remains uncertain because President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a bilateral security agreement with Washington until certain conditions are met.

On Sunday, former Afghan defense minister Rahim Wardak said he is withdrawing from the presidential race and will not endorse any other candidate.  He did not give any reason for ending his campaign and was not considered a front runner.

Earlier this month, the current president’s elder brother Qayyum Karzai announced he was ending his presidential campaign and supporting a former foreign minister, Zalmai Rassoul, who is widely perceived as President Karzai’s favored candidate.

There are 10 male candidates in the race to replace President Karzai, who is unable to run in next month’s vote due to constitutional term limits. In his last address to the joint session of parliament in Kabul Saturday, the Afghan leader reaffirmed his resolve to hold transparent and free elections

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
March 16, 2014 10:44 PM
Unless and until Taliban receive heavey punishment for their illegal activities, this type of voilance will never end. First of all they should stop the pipe line from Riyadh to Kabule. Riyadh is the birth place of Taliban. Still Taliban have good relation with Saudia, who is providing finance and weapons. The whole world knows how many saudi pilots were involve in September 2001 attack.

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Abeokuta Nigeria
March 16, 2014 1:11 PM
President Karzai is and will be Afghan's problem with his full intention to meddle in the country's politics when he's out.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs