Afghan election complaint body says vote in capital Kabul invalid

Authorities have still not released complete results from the Oct. 20 parliamentary ballot, which saw chaotic delays that forced voting to continue into the following day. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 December 2018
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Afghan election complaint body says vote in capital Kabul invalid

  • “There were serious outstanding problems in Kabul that could hurt the fairness, transparency and inclusiveness of the election”
  • More than a million votes were recorded in Kabul, accounting for about a quarter of the roughly 4 million votes cast nationwide

KABUL: Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission ruled on Thursday that votes cast in the capital Kabul during last October’s parliamentary election were invalid, citing fraud and mismanagement.
The ruling must be upheld by the Independent Election Commission, the body with overall authority over the ballot, which was marred by allegations of voter fraud, technical problems with biometric voter verification equipment and inaccurate voter lists.
“There were serious outstanding problems in Kabul that could hurt the fairness, transparency and inclusiveness of the election,” said Ali Reza Rohani, spokesman for the Electoral Complaints Commission.
More than a million votes were recorded in Kabul, accounting for about a quarter of the roughly 4 million votes cast nationwide. If confirmed by the IEC, the decision would call into question the validity of an election heavily pushed by Afghanistan’s international partners.
The recommendation to cancel the vote in Kabul also adds to uncertainty over the April 20 presidential election. Election authorities have said they are considering postponing the vote until July due to organizational difficulties.
Any delay to the presidential election could affect hoped-for peace talks with the Taliban, which have opened contacts with the United States but so far refused to talk to the government of President Ashraf Ghani.
Authorities have still not released complete results from the Oct. 20 parliamentary ballot, which saw chaotic delays that forced voting to continue into the following day.


Seoul: North Korea withdrew staff from liaison office

Updated 2 min ago
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Seoul: North Korea withdrew staff from liaison office

SEOUL: North Korea abruptly withdrew its staff from an inter-Korean liaison office in the North on Friday, Seoul officials said.
The development will likely put a damper on ties between the Koreas and complicate global diplomacy on the North’s nuclear weapons program. Last month, the second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam collapsed due to disputes over US-led sanctions on the North.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said that North Korea informed South Korea of its decision during a meeting at the liaison office at the North Korean border town of Kaesong on Friday.
The North said it “is pulling out with instructions from the superior authority,” according to a Unification Ministry statement. It didn’t say whether North Korea’s withdrawal of staff would be temporary or permanent.
According to the South Korean statement, the North added that it “will not mind the South remaining in the office” and that it would notify the South about practical matters later. Seoul’s Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told reporters that South Korea plans to continue to staff the Kaesong liaison office normally and that it expects the North will continue to allow the South Koreans to commute to the office. He said Seoul plans to staff the office with 25 people on Saturday and Sunday.
The South Korean statement calls the North’s decision “regrettable.” It said South Korea urges the North to return its staff to the liaison office soon.
The liaison office opened last September as part of a flurry of reconciliation steps. It is the first such Korean office since the peninsula was split into a US-backed, capitalistic South and a Soviet-supported, socialist North in 1945. The Koreas had previously used telephone and fax-like communication channels that were often shut down in times of high tension.
The town is where the Korea’s now-stalled jointly run factory complex was located. It combined South Korean initiatives, capital and technology with North Korea’s cheap labor. Both Koreas want the US to allow sanctions exemptions to allow the reopening of the factory park, which provided the North with much-needed foreign currency.