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 Security Council asked to hear from UN mission on Myanmar atrocities

Updated 7 min 55 sec ago
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UN Security Council asked to hear from UN mission on Myanmar atrocities

UNITED NATIONS, United States: The United States and eight other countries on Tuesday requested a UN Security Council meeting on Myanmar to hear from a UN fact-finding mission that has accused the country’s military of atrocities against Muslim Rohingyas.
The request is likely to run into opposition from China, which has friendly ties with Myanmar’s military and has sought to shield Myanmar from action by the Security Council.
In a joint letter seen by AFP, the nine countries said the mission’s chairperson should brief the council to allow it to “receive further information on this situation and its implications for international peace and security.”
The UN fact-finding mission released an explosive report last month that called on the council to refer the Myanmar situation to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, or to create an ad hoc international criminal tribunal, as was done with the former Yugoslavia.
The fact-finding mission said that Myanmar’s top generals, including Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing must be investigated and prosecuted for genocide in Rakhine State.
Myanmar has rejected accusations that its military committed atrocities in the crackdown last year that forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee over the border to Bangladesh.

In a separate letter to the council, Myanmar’s Ambassador Hau Do Suan said his government “strongly objects” to the request to hear the fact-finding mission.
The ambassador repeated Myanmar’s complaints that the report was “one-sided,” based on “narratives and not on hard evidence.”
“Putting accountability above all else without regard to other positive developments is a dangerous attempt that will face utter failure,” he warned in the letter obtained by AFP.
Britain, France, Peru, Sweden, Ivory Coast, the Netherlands, Poland and Kuwait jointed the United States in requesting the meeting to be held during the month of October.
Support from the nine countries for the request means that China would likely fail to block a meeting through a procedural vote. Nine votes are required at the 15-member council to approve an agenda item and vetoes do not apply.
Myanmar maintains that the violence in Rakhine was triggered by Rohingya extremists who attacked border posts in August 2017.
But the fact-finding mission said there were reasonable grounds to believe that the atrocities were committed with the intention of destroying the Rohingya, warranting the charges of “genocide.”
The report found that the military’s tactics had been “consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats,” and said that estimates that some 10,000 people were killed in the crackdown was likely a conservative figure.