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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid