Launch of electronic ID cards in Afghanistan intensifies Ghani-Abdullah feud

Ghani announced the official distribution of ID cards — known as the e-Tezkera — in a ceremony on Thursday at his heavily fortified presidential palace. (Reuters)
Updated 04 May 2018
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Launch of electronic ID cards in Afghanistan intensifies Ghani-Abdullah feud

  • Afghan Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has warned electronic ID cards announced by President Ashraf Ghani could lead to “more problems” in the country.
  • The ID card, or e-Tezkera, has angered some Afghan lawmakers with its use of ethnic categories.

KABUL: The introduction of electronic ID cards by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has angered the country’s Chief Executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who has warned the move could lead to new crises as the Taliban intensifies its attacks.
Ghani announced the official distribution of ID cards — known as the e-Tezkera — in a ceremony on Thursday at his heavily fortified presidential palace.
“Economic development planning, providing services and good governance is impossible without having accurate and complete information about citizens,” said Ghani.
He said the new electronic ID cards would help improve the security situation in the country.
Ghani received his new ID card at the launch. “Tezkera will help (strengthen) security in the country,” he said.
Electronic ID cards were due to be issued three years ago, but the process was delayed because of political disagreeements.
In a press conference at his office, Abdullah said the decision-making process that led to the new IDs lacked legitimacy and would create further problems in the country.
“I am not against electronic ID cards, but this is not the time because there are disagreements among the people over the cards,” he said.
Abdullah said he had refused to take part in the distribution of the cards “because I know this process has not received the required legitimacy and support from the Afghan people.
“It is a one-sided decision that has not been approved by all the stakeholders and could lead to more problems,” he said.
Abdullah urged the government to confront more serious challenges, such as drought and the war against militants. According to foreign media reports, extremists now control more of the country than at any time since the ousting of the Taliban regime in 2001.
The latest dispute between the two leaders reveal a deepening rift in the government as the country gears up for long-delayed parliamentary elections in October and the presidential polls in 2019.
Ghani and Abdullah had agreed to a power-sharing arrangement mediated by the US after claims that the country’s 2014 elections were rigged. The two leaders have been at loggerheads over major policy measures since.
The National Unity Government (NUG) planned to introduce ID cards to stop fraudulent voting.
However, political disagreements halted the plan. The NUG also failed to hold parliamentary elections set for spring 2015.
The main dispute over the new e-cards involves use of the term “Afghan” to denote nationality. Previous paper ID cards used the term as a denomination for all ethnic groups in the country.
However, the Pashtuns, the traditional rulers of Afghanistan, want the ethnicity of the card holder to be specified from 14 other groups.
Non-Pashtun groups, especially the Tajiks, oppose the idea, claiming it would give Pashtun ethnicity national status.

Decoder

Highlights

• Afghan Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has warned electronic ID cards announced by President Ashraf Ghani could lead to “more problems” in the country. • The ID card, or e-Tezkera, has angered some Afghan lawmakers with its use of ethnic categories. • The dispute between Abdullah and President Ashraf Ghani reveals a growing rift in the government ahead of parliamentary elections in October.

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UK PM Theresa May to ask lawmakers to vote on a second Brexit referendum

Updated 59 min 43 sec ago
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UK PM Theresa May to ask lawmakers to vote on a second Brexit referendum

  • May is offering concessions in what she says is a “last chance” to secure British departure
  • May said she was 'making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament'

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said her government will include in her Withdrawal Agreement Bill a requirement for lawmakers to vote on whether to hold another Brexit referendum.

“I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue,” May said. "The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum."

“So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal - you need a deal and therefore Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make it happen,” May said.

May is offering concessions in what she says is a “last chance” to secure an orderly British departure from the bloc.

The deal that she struck with the EU has been rejected by UK lawmakers three times already.

Since then, she has tried to secure backing from lawmakers with promises to maintain high standards on workers' rights and environmental protections — issues that are priorities for the left-of-center opposition Labour Party.

She also said UK lawmakers would get to decide how close a trade relationship to seek with the EU after Brexit, in a concession to Labour's demands for a customs union.

May said she was “making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament.”

“I have compromised. Now I ask you to compromise too,” she said.

May has said that after Parliament votes on the bill she will set out a timetable for her departure as Conservative leader and prime minister. Pro-Brexit Conservatives blame May for the country's political deadlock and want to replace her with a staunch Brexit supporter such as Boris Johnson, a former foreign secretary.

(With agencies)