UK flays Muslim Brotherhood, defends Western policy

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
Updated 08 December 2017
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UK flays Muslim Brotherhood, defends Western policy

LONDON: British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson singled out the Muslim Brotherhood and its associates for criticism on Thursday in a speech calling for a renewed Western diplomatic push in the Middle East to tackle extremism.
Speaking to diplomats and experts at the Foreign Office in London, Johnson called for better engagement with Muslim populations worldwide and argued that blaming Western intervention for the rise of extremism played into the jihadi narrative.
He said the West needed to collectively re-insert itself in the process toward peace in Syria and called for the US to bring fresh impetus to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Johnson said the Muslim Brotherhood — a global radical organization which started in Egypt in 1928 — was one of the most politically savvy operators in the Muslim world, but he also criticized its conduct in the Middle East and Britain.
“It is plainly wrong that Islamists should exploit freedoms here in the UK — freedoms of speech and association — that their associates would repress overseas and it is all too clear that some affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood are willing to turn a blind eye to terrorism,” he said.
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was designated as a terrorist organization in that country in 2013.
A 2015 British government review into the organization concluded that membership of or links to it should be considered a possible indicator of extremism but stopped short of recommending that it should be banned.
Johnson admitted there had been policy missteps in Iraq and Syria interventions, but said that did not justify a diplomatic retreat from the region.
“British foreign policy is not the problem, it is part of the solution,” he said, calling for a renewed role in Syria, more work to halt conflict in Yemen and progress in bringing factions together in Libya. “We need more engagement, not less,” he said.


Vote count begins for Afghan election

Afghan election observers at a polling center after ballots in the country’s legislative election were counted in Kabul on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2018
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Vote count begins for Afghan election

  • Some candidates said powerful figures were behind election rigging
  • The Electoral Complaints Commission said there was mismanagement during the election, and as of Sunday it had received some 5,000 complaints from voters and candidates

KABUL: Vote counting began on Monday for Afghanistan’s parliamentary election, which was marred by violence and irregularities, with political parties alleging “organized fraud.”

The parties said mismanagement and hundreds of Taliban attacks, which led to an extension of voting for another day at hundreds of polling stations, could raise questions over the election result, which is expected to be released in two months.

Some candidates said powerful figures were behind election rigging, and biometric devices, which were put in place to counter fraud, were smashed to facilitate the rigging. 

Abdul Bade Sayad, head of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), was cited by local media as confirming incidents of biometric equipment being smashed, and the presence of strongmen inside some polling stations. 

But the IEC should not be held responsible for this, he said, adding: “When the government itself feels helpless before powerful figures, then senior officials of the commission should not be blamed.”

The Electoral Complaints Commission said there was mismanagement during the election, and as of Sunday it had received some 5,000 complaints from voters and candidates.

Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) said people could not vote on Saturday in some 1,000 polling stations. 

Ahead of the election, which was delayed for more than three years, the government said it could not open more than 2,000 stations due to security threats.

Alleged irregularities included polling stations opening late, biometric devices malfunctioning, and the absence of IEC staff and voter registration lists.

Of the 9 million people who had registered to vote, nearly 4 million cast their ballot, the IEC said.

The IHRC said the IEC should not shun its responsibility regarding “shortcomings and grave violations in voting centers.”

The Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan said: “In some of the polling stations, ballots were not counted; instead the ballot boxes were transferred to a different location for counting… without informing the observers about the new location.”