News / Asia

Taliban Threatens Afghan Voters

Burqa-clad Afghan women attend an election rally of Afghan presidential candidate Gul Agha Shirzai in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, March 8, 2014.
Burqa-clad Afghan women attend an election rally of Afghan presidential candidate Gul Agha Shirzai in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, March 8, 2014.
Ayaz Gul
Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgency has warned Afghans against participating in the April 5 presidential election and ordered its fighters to use “all force” possible to disrupt the election.  The Islamist group's statement marks its first formal threat of violence to prevent the election process.  

The upcoming presidential election is considered key to Afghanistan's stability after the NATO-led coalition ends its combat mission in December.  The poll would mark the country's first democratic transfer of power.

But security remains the biggest challenge facing the democratic process, and the Taliban threat is likely to fuel those fears.

A Taliban statement Monday condemned the election as an American conspiracy, urging Afghans to “completely reject” it and not put themselves in danger by going to the polls.  It said Taliban fighters have been ordered to disrupt the “sham elections by full force and attack election workers, activists, volunteers and those providing security”.
 
The head of the Free and Fair Elections Foundation of Afghanistan, Jandad Spinghar, said such threats undermine the election process and scare away voters.

“It is now up to the Afghan government, especially security institutions, to respond to such [a] statement not just by a statement, but by some certain efforts and measures, which make sure that the Taliban cannot disturb the election.  Otherwise, of course it will [have an] effect on people, especially psychologically on peoples’ thoughts about their participation [in the election],” he said.

Dozens of people were killed during the fraud-riddled 2009 election that returned incumbent President Hamid Karzai to power.   Election laws bar him from running for a third consecutive term.  

Militant attacks in the past month have killed two campaign workers, and presidential front-runner candidate Abdullah Abdullah has escaped an assassination attempt.  The Taliban claim responsibility for the violence.

Meanwhile, leading candidates and some independent observers allege the Karzai administration is interfering in the election process.

Spinghar said observers of his organization have come across official irregularities. “Governmental authorities, opposite with that regulation we have for the campaign, they participated in some campaign events or they expressed their support through media for some candidates, which are not according to the regulation.  And in many places the governmental tools or vehicles are used for the benefit of some specific candidates,” he said.

President Hamid Karzai has not endorsed any candidate and has vowed to strictly remain neutral in the election.  

Officials have also rejected allegations that recent meetings in the presidential palace were meant to gather support for Karzai’s favored successor.

Last week’s announcement by the incumbent president’s older brother, Qayum Karzai, that he was pulling out of the race in favor of former foreign minister Zalmay Rassoul, has left little doubt among Afghan watchers about President Karzai’s favorite candidate.

Karzai is believed to be seeking an influential background advisory role in the future Afghan government and analysts say supporting Rassoul could help.

Some critics also suggest the controversy stemming from President Karzai’s refusal to sign the bilateral security agreement with the United States has effectively diverted international attention from the crucial election, allowing the Afghan leader to manipulate the process in his favor.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid