Afghan rival camps concerned over further delay in poll results

Newly graduated Afghan National Army soldiers march during a ceremony at the Afghan Military Academy in Kabul after a three-month training program. (AP)
Updated 29 October 2019

Afghan rival camps concerned over further delay in poll results

  • Independent Election Commission says outcome will be published on Nov. 14

KABUL: The camps of the two frontrunners in Afghanistan’s presidential election voiced concern on Monday about a further delay in the announcement of last month’s poll results.

On the basis of the timeline of the election, which was already delayed twice and saw the lowest turnout of any ballot held in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s ouster, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) failed to release the preliminary results on Oct. 19.

Officials of the government-appointed body said at the time that the IEC would announce the results within a week. 

But on Sunday the head of the IEC, Hawa Alam Nuristani, said the outcome would be published on Nov. 14, which will push back the declaration of the final results too.

The IEC cited technical issues and hacking of its server as the main reasons for the delay. 

This has created skepticism that the process will create a crisis similar to the 2014 polls, which progressed to the second round and led to — based on a deal brokered by Washington — Ashraf Ghani becoming president and his arch rival Abdullah Abdullah becoming chief executive.

FASTFACT

Afghanistan welcomed the killing of Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi as a major blow to terrorism that is expected to weaken the South Asian branch of the Middle Eastern militant group.

“Despite the fact that we’re concerned about any delay (in the announcement of the poll results), if that aids the transparency of the election then it’s bearable,” Fazl Ahmad Manawi, a chief manager for Abdullah, told Arab News.

Harun Mir, an official representing Ghani’s side, said: “We see no legal or moral justification for delaying the results. People expect the IEC to explain with transparency the reasons for it.”

Officials of the two camps said divisions between IEC commissioners, the partiality of some of the nominees and poor management were the causes for the postponement.

Asked if the delay was part of a compromise to allow the resumption of US talks with the Taliban so the group is given a share in the future setup, Manawi said: “I don’t see any political plot, but anything is possible in Afghanistan.”

The US special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is currently in Kabul, where he has met with Ghani, Abdullah and other influential Afghan politicians to discuss resuming talks with Taliban.

The Taliban wants the withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan, considers Ghani’s administration a US “puppet,” and says it will not accept elections under occupation.

Speaking at the Council of Ministers meeting on Monday, Abdullah said both the talks and election process were very important for Afghanistan.

“We must act on opportunities for peace, but at the same time we mustn’t forget a transparent election result,” he added.

“A transparent election will rescue democracy and the democratic process, and will bring stability to the country. We’re asking the IEC to keep its independence for the remainder of the process.”


Interpol warns of ‘alarming’ cybercrime rate during pandemic

Updated 18 min 36 sec ago

Interpol warns of ‘alarming’ cybercrime rate during pandemic

  • Cybercriminals are increasingly using disruptive malware against critical infrastructure and health care institutions
  • There was also an increase in the spread of fake news and misinformation which sometimes itself conceals malware

LYON: Global police body Interpol warned Monday of an “alarming” rate of cybercrime during the coronavirus pandemic, with criminals taking advantage of people working from home to target major institutions.
An assessment by the Lyon-based organization found a “significant target shift” by criminals from individuals and small businesses to major corporations, governments and critical infrastructure.
“Cybercriminals are developing and boosting their attacks at an alarming pace, exploiting the fear and uncertainty caused by the unstable social and economic situation created by COVID-19,” said Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock.
“The increased online dependency for people around the world is also creating new opportunities, with many businesses and individuals not ensuring their cyberdefenses are up to date,” he added.
The report said cybercriminals were sending COVID-19 themed phishing emails — which seek to obtain confidential data from users — often impersonating government and health authorities.
Cybercriminals are increasingly using disruptive malware against critical infrastructure and health care institutions, it added.
In the first two weeks of April 2020, there was a rise in ramsomware attacks, in which users have to pay money to get their computer to work again.
There was also an increase in the spread of fake news and misinformation which sometimes itself conceals malware, said Interpol.
From January to April, some 907,000 spam messages, 737 incidents related to malware and 48,000 malicious URLs — all related to COVID-19 were detected by one of Interpol’s private sector partners, it said.
The agency warned the trend was set to continue and a “further increase in cybercrime is highly likely in the near future.”
“Vulnerabilities related to working from home and the potential for increased financial benefit will see cybercriminals continue to ramp up their activities and develop more advanced and sophisticated” methods, it said.
Once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, Interpol said, “it is highly probable that there will be another spike in phishing related to these medical products as well as network intrusion and cyberattacks to steal data.”