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.


Dutch arrest suspected Syrian militant commander: prosecutor

Updated 21 May 2019
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Dutch arrest suspected Syrian militant commander: prosecutor

THE HAGUE: Dutch police on Tuesday arrested a Syrian asylum seeker suspected of committing war crimes as a commander of the Al-Nusra Front militant group, prosecutors said.
The 47-year-old man, identified only by his nom de guerre Abu Khuder, was detained in Kapelle in the southwestern Netherlands, the Dutch federal prosecutor said.
“The man is accused of participating in the armed struggle as a commander or a terrorist Jabhat Al-Nusra battalion,” the prosecutor said in a statement, using another name for the Al-Nusra front.
It said he was held “on suspicion of committing war crimes and terrorist crimes in Syria,” adding that he had fought in a battalion known as Ghuraba’a Mohassan (Strangers of Mohassan).
The arrested Syrian has lived in the Netherlands since 2014 and was granted a temporary asylum permit, the statement said.
Police searched the suspect’s house and recovered documents, a computer and a smartphone, it said, adding that he was due to appear in court on Friday.
He was arrested based on information provided by German police, where six homes belonging to suspected members of the same battalion were raided, it added.
German police “provided witness testimonies against the suspect,” the Dutch prosecutor said.
The Al-Nusra Front was allied to Al-Qaeda but renounced ties to the group. Under a new name, it now dominates the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which holds administrative control of the Syrian city of Idlib.
The arrest of the Syrian comes as the Netherlands grapples with the problem of what to do with home-grown radicals who went to fight in Syria.
At least 315 people left the Netherlands since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011 to join militant groups, according to Dutch media reports quoting official figures.
Around 85 have been killed in the fighting and 55 have returned.
The issue was highlighted in March when the Dutch husband of a British-born teenager who fled to join Daesh said he wanted her to live with him in the Netherlands along with their child.