Afghan president Ashraf Ghani vows to hold elections

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday pledged to hold elections. (AFP)
Updated 29 March 2018
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Afghan president Ashraf Ghani vows to hold elections

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday pledged to hold elections, amid fears by political parties that his National Unity Government (NUG) seeks to prolong its term under the pretext of establishing security in the country.
Parliamentary and local council elections were originally set for July 2015, but the NUG failed to hold them without giving a reason, instead extending the current Parliament’s term indefinitely.
Last year, the NUG-appointed election body came up with a new date to hold the vote, in July this year, but recently rescheduled it to October.
The long delay prompted political parties and lawmakers to express fear that Ghani seeks to extend the NUG tenure because attacks by the Taliban and Daesh have increased since 2015, and that the government will argue that violence will undermine fair and free presidential elections set for 2019.
In an apparent response to the speculation, Ghani — during a meeting with a delegation from the US House of Representatives — on Thursday said elections are a must for Afghanistan.
“I conveyed to members of the delegation that holding elections is our top priority,” he said. “This country can only be governed democratically. Dictatorship has been tried, exclusion has been tried, and all other ways have been tried — none worked. Afghans want to be governed democratically.”
NUG spokesman Javed Faisal said preparations are underway for parliamentary elections. “The voter registration process will be kicked off on April 14. It will be conducted in three phases until its conclusion on June 21,” he added.
Ghani’s deputy spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal told Arab News: “The government is committed to holding presidential elections, and considers this its responsibility.” The NUG is working on a security and logistical plan for securing both polls, Menapal said.
Various elections since the Taliban’s ouster in late 2001 have been held amid complaints of fraud, but the presidential one in 2014 was seen as the most fraudulent.
The US, which leads the war against the Taliban and has bankrolled the polls, pushed for the formation of the NUG, in which Ghani and his rival Dr. Abdullah Abdullah share power.


Protesters clash with Indonesian police after election loss

Police detain protesters after clashes in Jakarta, Indonesia, early May 22, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. (Reuters)
Updated 12 min 10 sec ago
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Protesters clash with Indonesian police after election loss

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Supporters of an unsuccessful presidential candidate clashed with security forces and set fire to a police dormitory and vehicles in the Indonesian capital on Wednesday after the release of official election results.
The situation turned violent late Tuesday when protesters tried to force their way into the offices of the election supervisory agency and clashes continued through the night, National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said. More than 20 suspected provocateurs were arrested, he said Wednesday.
KompasTV showed protesters throwing rocks, a paramilitary police dormitory on fire, and hundreds of riot police in a central neighborhood.
Indonesia’s Election Commission on Tuesday said President Joko Widodo had won a second term with 55.5% of the vote in the April 17 election.
Former special forces general Prabowo Subianto has refused to accept the results and declared himself the winner. His campaign plans to challenge the election in the Constitutional Court. They allege massive fraud but have provided no credible evidence.
Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono said police used tear gas and water cannon against protesters who threw rocks, molotov cocktails and burning projectiles.
The government had deployed some 50,000 police and soldiers in Jakarta in anticipation of protests, said Yuwono. Many residents have left the city and parts of the downtown are closed to traffic with the election supervisory agency and election commission barricaded with razor wire.
In the past week, authorities have arrested three pro-Subianto activists on suspicion of treason, said Prasetyo, including a retired general and former commander of Indonesia’s special forces. Police allege there was a plot to seize crucial government buildings in Jakarta.