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 Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid