Afghans ignore Ghani’s appeals on poll vote

In this file photo, Afghan employees of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) register a resident at a voter registration center for the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections in Kabul. (AFP)
Updated 21 April 2018
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Afghans ignore Ghani’s appeals on poll vote

  • A week after the voter registration process began, public turnout remains low.
  • Between 10 and 13 million Afghans out of the country’s estimated 30 million population are eligible to vote in the parliamentary and provincial council elections.

KABUL: Afghans appear to be ignoring President Ashraf Ghani’s pleas for people to register to vote in long-delayed elections set for Oct. 20.
A week after the voter registration process began, public turnout remains low.
Between 10 and 13 million Afghans out of the country’s estimated 30 million population are eligible to vote in the parliamentary and provincial council elections.
But so far the turnout in Kabul and other major cities may be as low as 113,000, officials believe.
Anyone failing to register before the government’s deadline in two weeks will be unable to vote. Mosques and schools have been turned into voting registration centers.
“We have had only a handful of people in this center since morning,” said Inamaullah, an official in the north of the capital.
Poor security and a lack of trust in the election process are being blamed for the poor turnout.
Many people have also expressed disappointment in the government for failing to deliver on basic election promises.
The slow pace of registration forced Ghani to appeal to officials and the country’s population to register.
“Today I spoke with the governors of 34 provinces and commanders of the armed forces … to speed up the voter registration process,” the leader of the joint National Unity Government said in a statement on Thursday.
“I asked the governors to direct civil servants and their family members who are eligible to vote to take part in this critical process.”
Ghani also told the Minister of Hajj Awqaf to ensure that prayer leaders encouraged people to take part in the voter registration process.
“I have directed the relevant officials to provide women with the necessary facilities to participate in voter registration, and I instructed security forces to safeguard polling stations,” the president said.
The British ambassador to Kabul was among foreign diplomats who urged Afghans to register and vote.
“I encourage all Afghans to take this opportunity to use their democratic right to perform their civic duty,” Nick Kay said in a video message posted on social media.
Ghani and his wife, Rula Ghani, were among the first to register.
The Afghan leader even urged Taliban militants to register and campaign for the elections — a call that was rejected.


UN report: Sex abuse in UN peacekeeping drops, up elsewhere

A UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) liaison fixes her colleagues hat as they attend the UNIFLIS's 40th anniversary celebration at its base in Lebanon's southern border town of Naqura on the border with Israel, south of Beirut, on March 19, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 20 min 39 sec ago
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UN report: Sex abuse in UN peacekeeping drops, up elsewhere

  • Guterres said the increase in those allegations was possibly due to "awareness-raising" and improved reporting by the 30 U.N. agencies, funds and programs

UNITED NATIONS: Allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in U.N. peacekeeping missions decreased in 2018 — but allegations against other U.N. personnel and against staff of organizations implementing U.N. programs increased, according to a U.N. report released Monday.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report to the U.N. General Assembly circulated Monday that the alleged victims were mainly women and children.
The United Nations has long been in the spotlight over allegations of child rape and other sexual abuses by its peacekeepers, especially those based in Central African Republic and Congo. But the latest figures demonstrate again that sexual misconduct spans the entire U.N. system and beyond to outside organizations helping to implement its programs on the ground.
Guterres stressed the U.N.'s "zero-tolerance" policy and said he has embarked on "a cultural transformation" to eliminate sexual abuse and exploitation throughout the U.N. system, which comprises more than 90,000 staff and over 100,000 uniformed personnel.
According to the report, the number of cases in U.N. peacekeeping and political missions dropped to 54 in 2018 from 62 in 2017, and from 104 reported cases in 2016. It said 74 percent of the allegations in 2018 came from the U.N. peacekeeping forces in Central African Republic and Congo, and the remaining 24 percent from the peacekeeping missions in Mali, Haiti, Liberia and South Sudan.
By comparison, there were 94 reported cases of sexual exploitation elsewhere in the United Nations system, and 109 allegations involving U.N. partner organizations, the report said.
Guterres said the increase in those allegations was possibly due to "awareness-raising" and improved reporting by the 30 U.N. agencies, funds and programs.
The U.N. chief stressed that continuing allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse "harms those we serve, undermines the United Nations values and principles and tarnishes the reputation of the women and men who work with integrity and dedication to realize the objectives of the organization."