Afghans fear violence, fraud as presidential vote looms | AFP

Ordinary Afghans are divided on whether to defy the Taliban’s threats and cast their ballots in a presidential election this week, and even those who are willing to vote fear the poll will be tainted by fraud. There are 18 candidates competing for the presidency including incumbent president Ashraf Ghani, and his chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. . SEE ALSO VIDEO 1KJ5FP.

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Afghans divided on whether to vote in presidential election | AFP

Ordinary Afghans are divided on whether to defy the Taliban’s threats and cast their ballots in a presidential election this week, and even those who are willing to vote fear the poll will be tainted by fraud. There are 18 candidates competing for the presidency including incumbent president Ashraf Ghani, and his chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

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VICE News Daily: Beyond The Headlines – September 22, 2014

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The VICE News Capsule is a news roundup that looks beyond the headlines. Today: Afghan presidential candidates agree on national unity government, bomb kills two policemen in Egyptian capital, group of Rwandan rebels in D.R. Congo won’t disarm without promise of protection, and Malaysia screens banned Singaporean political documentary.

AFGHANISTAN
Power-Sharing Agreement Ends Election Drama
Ashraf Ghani will serve as president, while Abdullah Abdullah’s role of chief executive resembles that of prime minister.

EGYPT
Bomb Attack Kills Policemen in Cairo
The blast targeted a police checkpoint near the Foreign Ministry building in Cairo.

D.R. CONGO
Rwandan Rebels Seek Security Before They Disarm
Commander of the Tigers says he and his militia want to return to their country and form a political party.

SINGAPORE
Banned Political Documentary Screened in Malaysia
The government claims the subjects of ‘To Singapore, With Love’ gave untruthful accounts and that the film undermines national security.

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VICE News Daily: Beyond The Headlines – July, 09 2014

The VICE News Capsule is a news roundup that looks beyond the headlines. Today: Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah claims victory despite preliminary results, thousands of Yemenis displaced by fighting north of Sanaa, UN calls for Central American migrants to be treated as refugees, and Peru raids hideouts of the Shining Path guerrilla group.

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AFGHANISTAN
Abdullah Abdullah Claims Victory Despite Early Results
Observers are worried a standoff between candidates would plunge the country into chaos as foreign troops leave.

YEMEN
10,000 Families Flee Fighting in Northern City
Houthi tribesmen have fought government forces to secure greater autonomy on and off for the last decade.

U.S.A.
UN Urges Treatment of Central American Migrants as Refugees
President Obama has requested nearly $4 billion in emergency funding from Congress to cope with the influx.

PERU
Government Forces Crack Down on Shining Path
Troops raided two hideouts and rescued five people the guerrilla group had held hostage.

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Protests Over Voting Fraud: Elections in Afghanistan (Dispatch 5)

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In the space of a few short days, Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah went from confident frontrunner to aggrieved underdog as his rival, Ashraf Ghani, took a surprise lead. Abdullah promptly announced that he rejected the preliminary election results and demanded the resignation of the head of the election commission, Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail, amid accusations of ballot tampering.

Peaceful street protests in support of Abdullah sprung up across central Kabul, echoing the protests of the Arab Spring. When Amarkhail resigned after Abdullah’s team released audio tapes of him allegedly discussing large-scale electoral fraud, Abdullah’s campaign seemed revitalized, culminating in a large Friday demonstration in the center of Kabul during which Abdullah personally addressed his supporters.

While the peaceful nature of the demonstrations illustrate how far Afghanistan has come since 2001, the political deadlock is now edging the country toward crisis, with no sense of how or when the high-stakes political drama will end.

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VICE News Daily: Beyond The Headlines – June, 23 2014

The VICE News Capsule is a news roundup that looks beyond the headlines. Today: Iraqi army claims victory in eastern towns despite ISIS gains in the west, Afghans protest against alleged ballot stuffing, Pope Francis condemns one of Italy’s most powerful mafias, and Nigerian fishermen reject Shell’s $50 million spill settlement.

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IRAQ
Army Claims Victory in Diyala Towns
ISIS fighters are still carving into areas that lead to the capital Baghdad.

AFGHANISTAN
Protests Against Alleged Election Fraud
Supporters of candidate Abdullah Abdullah demonstrated in Kabul on Saturday.

ITALY
Pope Francis Excommunicates Mafia
The pontiff condemned ‘Ndrangheta’s ‘adoration of evil’ at mass on his first visit to Calabria.

UK
Shell Oil Offers Settlement in Nigeria Spill Case
The claimants have rejected the oil company’s $50 million payout for damages inflicted by the 2008 spills.

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Accusations of Fraud on Election Day: Elections in Afghanistan (Dispatch 2)

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The final round of Afghanistan’s presidential elections took place with a relatively low death toll — a quiet kind of victory for nation’s fledgling democracy. Inside Kabul, the Taliban fired a few rockets harmlessly towards the northern suburbs after daybreak, as if for form’s sake. But the election went ahead anyway, with small trickles of voters filing into polling centers across the capital throughout the day.

Lines were almost non-existent, an outcome political activists ascribed variously to the fierce heat, lack of ballot papers, increased efficiency on behalf of the electoral commission and voter apathy. Polls since the first round of voting showed Dr. Abdullah Abdullah taking a solid lead over his opponent, former World Bank economist Dr. Ashraf Ghani. But at each of the three polling centers VICE News visited, almost every voter interviewed claimed to have cast their vote for Ghani, implying the final result may be closer than anyone expected.

Electoral monitors for both candidates traded accusations of attempted fraud, with Abdullah taking the lion’s share of the blame. At the polling center in Kabul’s upper-middle class District 10, VICE News witnessed a secret policeman escorted away by stern-faced soldiers after being caught attempting to vote for Abdullah twice.

In a month’s time, the ballot papers from Afghanistan’s provinces will have been counted at least, those from where voting was possible and Afghanistan will have a new president. Depending on the closeness of the results, the transition to a new administration may take place smoothly, or may be marred by accusations of electoral fraud and voter intimidation.

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VICE News Interviews Abdullah Abdullah: Elections in Afghanistan (Dispatch 1)

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There’s an eerie sense of calm to Kabul ahead of Saturday’s elections, as government security forces place the city under lockdown in an attempt to neutralise any Taliban attacks before they happen. The first round of the presidential elections, back in April, were surprisingly peaceful- at least within the Kabul security bubble- but the Taliban have publicly vowed to disrupt Saturday’s runoff, warning voters to stay away from polling stations. Rumors are swirling around the capital of Taliban assault teams already in place and armed with heavy weapons and magnetic bombs, and in response army, police and intelligence service checkpoints have sprung up on every intersection in Kabul, choking the city’s already dense traffic into a packed stream of honking horns and eye-watering exhaust fumes. The Taliban threat is very real: only last week, the frontrunner, presidential candidate Dr Abdullah Abdullah narrowly survived a coordinated suicide bomb attack which killed three of his staff and a number of bystanders, reducing his armoured car to a shrapnel-peppered hunk of charred steel.

Since then, Abdullah’s electioneering has been restricted to his fortified Kabul compound, with streams of tribal elders and representatives of the country’s interest groups different filing into his media centre throughout the day to listen to near-identical speeches and announce their support for his presidential bid. VICE NEWS was granted a brief audience with Abdullah, in which he brushed aside the suggestion that the sudden jihadist blitzkrieg on Iraq heralded a glimpse of Afghanistan’s future after ISAF troops pull out.

“Those are very serious events,” Abdullah said, “[but] in Afghanistan the majority of the people have rejected the Talibanization of the country. They don’t have a place, and I am sure that with the legitimacy of the future government based on transparent elections, the state institutions will be strengthened. I am not concerned about that scenario here in Afghanistan. Security is a challenge for the country and will be a challenge for the country, and support from the international community will be needed. There are problems, there are challenges, but there are ways to deal with it.”

Asked whether he saw a negotiated settlement between an Abdullah administration and the Taliban who’d just tried to assassinate him, he remarked that “the end result, the projection of the end of this conflict, of course there needs to be a negotiated settlement. When is it that it is possible to achieve it, that’s a different issue. That does not mean we should not take serious steps and genuine steps to pursue negotiations, but that does not take one side; it also takes the other side. So, on the Afghan side I think genuine serious efforts for pursuing negotiations and offers should be made. At the same time we should protect our own citizens, we should strengthen the security of the country and pursue the programmes which is dealing with the priorities of the majority of the people, like governance, like the fight against corruption, rule of law, and delivering to the people the delivery of services.”

In practice, Afghanistan’s central government has a shaky hold at best on much of the country, severely limiting its ability to provide any of the above aspirations outside major urban centres. But Kabul, buoyed, until recently, by an economic boom derived from aid money, expats and local corruption and secured like a fortress by its heavy foreign and Afghan military presence, presents a vision of what a semi-stable future Afghanistan might look like. A violence-free election will provide a major propaganda boost for the incoming government, and the security services have thrown vast resources at ensuring this outcome. In a bid to reassure the populace polling day will take place smoothly, Kabul’s police chief summoned dozens of journalists on a tour of the city, cramming dozens of cameramen into police pickup trucks, which careered around the congested streets in a long convoy of blaring sirens and shakily-held camcorders, producing choking clouds of dust and the bewilderment of passersby.

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VICE News Daily: Beyond The Headlines – May,16 2014

The VICE News Capsule is a news roundup that looks beyond the headlines. Today: Afghanistan’s election heads for a June run-off, a Bangladeshi river ferry capsizes killing at least a dozen people, a hunger-striking detained Al Jazeera journalist releases video from a Cairo prison, and Qatar promises to amend labor laws affecting more than a million migrant workers.

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AFGHANISTAN
Presidential Election Heads For June Run-Off
Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani will compete to replace President Hamid Karzai.

BANGLADESH
At Least a Dozen Dead After Ferry Capsizes Near Dhaka
About 40 of the 200 passengers who were onboard swam to safety.

EGYPT
Imprisoned Al Jazeera Journalist Releases Video Message
26-year-old Abdullah Elshamy has been on hunger strike for almost four months.

QATAR
Government Promises Labor Law Reforms
Human rights groups say the proposed changes aren’t enough to protect more than a million migrant workers.

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