Australia’s new prime minister announces his Cabinet

Incoming Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison is sworn in at Government House, Canberra, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2018. (AP)
Updated 26 August 2018
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Australia’s new prime minister announces his Cabinet

  • Morrison won a ballot of government lawmakers for the leadership on Friday against rival Peter Dutton
  • The fractured conservative coalition government needs to present a united front to voters ahead of elections due by May

CANBERRA: Australia’s new prime minister announced a peace-making Cabinet on Sunday that does not punish his rivals in a bruising power struggle that ousted his predecessor days ago and divided a government that lags in opinion polls.
The fractured conservative coalition government needs to present a united front to voters ahead of elections due by May.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison won a ballot of government lawmakers for the leadership on Friday against rival Peter Dutton.
Morrison had been loyal to his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, whom Dutton had demanded prove he had the support of ruling Liberal Party lawmakers in a ballot. Turnbull resigned.
Morrison, who last week was the treasurer, returned Dutton to the home affairs ministry he had held under Turnbull.
Mathias Cormann, a party power broker who backed Dutton, retained his finance portfolio.
Australia’s first female foreign minister, Julie Bishop, announced earlier Sunday that she had quit the Cabinet.
The 62-year-old Bishop had had been deputy leader of the ruling party since 2007 and failed to become prime minister in Friday’s leadership ballot.
Opposition lawmaker Penny Wong paid tribute to Bishop for her trailblazing role in foreign affairs.
Bishop will be replaced as foreign minister by Marise Payne, Australia’s first female defense minister.


Vote count begins for Afghan election

Afghan election observers at a polling center after ballots in the country’s legislative election were counted in Kabul on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2018
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Vote count begins for Afghan election

  • Some candidates said powerful figures were behind election rigging
  • The Electoral Complaints Commission said there was mismanagement during the election, and as of Sunday it had received some 5,000 complaints from voters and candidates

KABUL: Vote counting began on Monday for Afghanistan’s parliamentary election, which was marred by violence and irregularities, with political parties alleging “organized fraud.”

The parties said mismanagement and hundreds of Taliban attacks, which led to an extension of voting for another day at hundreds of polling stations, could raise questions over the election result, which is expected to be released in two months.

Some candidates said powerful figures were behind election rigging, and biometric devices, which were put in place to counter fraud, were smashed to facilitate the rigging. 

Abdul Bade Sayad, head of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), was cited by local media as confirming incidents of biometric equipment being smashed, and the presence of strongmen inside some polling stations. 

But the IEC should not be held responsible for this, he said, adding: “When the government itself feels helpless before powerful figures, then senior officials of the commission should not be blamed.”

The Electoral Complaints Commission said there was mismanagement during the election, and as of Sunday it had received some 5,000 complaints from voters and candidates.

Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) said people could not vote on Saturday in some 1,000 polling stations. 

Ahead of the election, which was delayed for more than three years, the government said it could not open more than 2,000 stations due to security threats.

Alleged irregularities included polling stations opening late, biometric devices malfunctioning, and the absence of IEC staff and voter registration lists.

Of the 9 million people who had registered to vote, nearly 4 million cast their ballot, the IEC said.

The IHRC said the IEC should not shun its responsibility regarding “shortcomings and grave violations in voting centers.”

The Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan said: “In some of the polling stations, ballots were not counted; instead the ballot boxes were transferred to a different location for counting… without informing the observers about the new location.”