At a meeting hosted by members of the Reform and Convergence Team on Thursday afternoon, presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah asserted that the audit process should bring justice, adding that his team will monitor every step of the process before making final decisions.
"We want the audit process to bring justice," he said. "I assure the people of Afghanistan that we are determined to protect their votes."
Moreover, Abdullah stressed on the significance of maintaining the legitimacy of the election process, stating that people's votes should not be tampered with.
"Defending votes is not about getting power; it is about defending the rights of the people of Afghanistan," he stated while claiming that his team has genuine votes from various provinces around the country.
Abdullah also emphasized that safeguarding people's trust is an important part of his leadership.
"The only thing we have is the people's trust; we will not give it up in exchange for anything," Abdullah stressed.
The statements came as recent disputes in the Independent Election Commission (IEC) have once again raised concerns and uncertainties about the future of the election process.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has undertaken a new $92 million project to improve the Afghan higher education system , a USAID press release announced on August 21.
The press release indicated that representatives from the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE),the Ministry of Economy and USAID signed the agreement for the University Support and Workforce Development Project (USWDP) on August 13.
“Improving Afghanistan’s educational system is an important and long-term priority for the United States,” the statement read, adding that the USAID has contributed $1.1 billion to the Afghan education sector from 2002-2013.
The USWDP aims to improve the quality of academic programs to meet international standards by organizing trainings for faculty and students. Furthermore, the project will help build and advance better management in MoHE , create new opportunities to attend higher education institutes and further develop the higher education curriculum.
Alongside representatives of the international community, USAID officials in Afghanistan have always stressed on the significance of a strong educational system for the country’s economy and stability.
USWDP will be implemented through the FHI 360 contracting company in the framework of a five-year plan.
The Kabul Police has arrested the man who stabbed a foreign citizen in the neck early Wednesday morning in Kabul's district 10.
The foreign national's identity has not been revealed yet. However, in a recent statement, NATO's International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) have said that one of their soldiers was attacked in "eastern Afghanistan," without giving further details about the incident or the victim's identity.
The incident occurred when unidentified men stabbed a foreign citizen around 10:30 a.m. on Kabul International Airport road. Eye witnesses stated that the man was standing on the main airport road when unidentified men came out of a car and stabbed him, immediately fleeing the area.
"The foreigners were escorting trucks and stopped near the police checkpost when two foreigners and their translator stepped out of the car to get permission from the police to allow the vehicles through," an eyewitness said. "And suddenly one of the foreigners fell to the ground with blood spattered everywhere."
Soon after the incident, the Kabul police spokesman Hashmatullah Istanikzai announced to the media that the attacker, Abdul Fatah Jahadwal, was a Taliban commander who is currently under investigation. Jahadwal is said to have resided in Kabul and Ghazni.
Meanwhile, on his twitter, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujaheed has claimed the responsibility for the attack but denied the arrest of the attacker.
President Obama may have ordered American warplanes back to Iraq, but he has not changed his mind about his other big military withdrawal. Mr. Obama told advisers this week that delaying the pullout of American troops from Afghanistan would make no difference there as long as the country did not overcome its political rifts.
President Obama has said political differences arising from election in Afghanistan, will not go away with delaying the American forces withdrawal.
But John McCain, a senior American senator reacted to the speech by Obama and warned that the Iraq scenario will be repeated in Afghanistan.
Previously, the NATO Secretary General said that if the security agreement is not signed by the time of the NATO summit in Wales, NATO will decide on the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
In this episode of Farakhabar host, Yama Siawish discusses the topic with the following guests:
Arif Sarwari, former NDS head
Qayoum Sajadi, MP
To watch the program, click here:
In this episode of tawde khabare, host Shapoor Bakhtiyar discusses about the foreign aid and domestic revenue decrease and economic problems in the county with the following guests:
Amin Farhang, former commerce minister
Sayed Massoud, university professor
Najib Manalai, adviser to the Ministry of Finance
Azim Mohseni, Deputy of the Financial and Budget Commission at the House of Representatives
To watch the program, click here:
Less than two weeks remain for the NATO summit in Wales, Britain and the Afghan government has once again emphasized on the international community's long-term commitment.
In this episode, host Muslim Sherzad discusses the topic with the following guests:
Omar Samad, political analyst in U.S
Abdul Hafiz Mansour, MP
Jafar Mahdawe, university professor
To watch the program, click here:
Afghan security officials on Wednesday said that a clearance operation has begun in Chahar Dara district of Kunduz province to clear the district of insurgents.
Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Mohammadi is said to be closely monitoring the operation.
On Wednesday more than a hundred Taliban militants attacked security checkpoints in Chahar Dara starting a clash that is still ongoing between both sides, security officials said on Wednesday.
Officials say that Chahar Dara will be cleared of insurgents soon.
The rising insecurity in Kunduz has left many residents concerned about the militant group advancements into the province, causing many to leave everything behind in search of safety.
Residents have stressed that the insurgents have gained more than the security officials have prevented. A Kunduz resident told TOLOnews that the insurgents have surrounded the entire province, leaving only the city, which he stressed they would come after sooner or later.
At least four Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers were wounded early Thursday morning in Kabul, according to local police.
Kabul police said in a statement released to the media, that the incident occurred at about 7 a.m. local time when the ANA's vehicle hit a land mine in the 12th district of Kabul in an area known as Ahmad Shah Baba Mina.
The victims have been taken to nearby hospital.
The statement added that there were no civilian casualties.
An investigation is underway by the Kabul police.
The Taliban insurgents have claimed responsibility for the incident.
Taliban insurgents killed five police officers and a civilian and wounded another police officer in western Herat province on Wednesday, local officials said.
On Thursday Provincial Police spokesman Abdul Raouf Ahmadi says, the incident occurred late Wednesday in Ab Jalil area of Injil district of the province when armed Taliban attacked a Herat police training academy vehicle.
The police academy vehicle was traveling from Zinda Jan district to Herat city.
"The officers were instructors who were a part of Herat's police training center," Ahmadi said.
He adds that one civilian's life was claimed as he was caught in the crossfire.
While no insurgent groups including the Taliban have claimed responsibility, Ahmadi says the Taliban were behind the attack.
The victims were taken to a nearby hospital.
The Taliban have not yet commented about the attack.
Five International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) staff were released from the captivity of a local armed group on Wednesday in western Herat province, ICRC officials said.
"Our five colleagues are free and they are in good health condition and have been reunited with their families," ICRC office said in a statement.
"We remain committed to pursuing our activities for people suffering the effects of the conflict in Afghanistan. Once again, we are calling for greater respect for the ICRC's humanitarian works all over the country. Our staff must be allowed to work in safety."
The staff was abducted on August 14th while the team was traveling by road in Herat province.
So far no group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the abduction.
Hamas said on Wednesday its military commander Muhammad Deif was alive and still calling the shots in the ongoing war with Israel in and around Gaza.
"The head of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades Abu Khaled is still alive and leading the military operation," a source close to the Islamist movement told AFP, using Deif's nom-de-guerre.
His remarks were made after an Israeli air strike leveled a six-story house in Gaza City, killing Deif's wife and infant son.
It was not immediately clear whether Deif had also been killed or injured in the strike, which also killed another woman and a teenager.
Israeli military sources had earlier told Fox News that the leader had been killed in the strike as well, in what would have potentially been a major blow for the group.
Muhammad Deif has been an active leader in Hamas' military wing for decades, and has long been an extremely mysterious figure in the Palestinian resistance movement.
He is said to live completely underground from where he directs Hamas military actions, and a photograph has not been taken of him in decades.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri also issued a statement, saying Israelis would not be safe until Deif decided so.
"The occupation will pay for its crimes against Palestinian civilians and those living around the Gaza border will not return home until Muhammad Deif decides so," he said.
Earlier, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for military action to topple Hamas, saying the movement was clearly dictating the pace of the confrontation.
"This policy of 'quiet for quiet' effectively means that Hamas is the initiator and the one deciding when, where and how to shoot at Israeli citizens," he wrote on his Facebook page.
"Hamas is controlling the height of the flames and chooses when to disturb the rhythm of life for people in Israel," he said, indicating the rocket fire from Gaza was unlikely to stop.
"When we speak seriously about Israelis' security we must understand that there is no other option other than decisive action with one meaning - toppling Hamas."
Lieberman is one of the most hardline members of Israel's inner security cabinet, which was meeting on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the situation, media reports said.
Milko Van Gool, in charge of Development Cooperation for the European Union in Afghanistan, on Wednesday announced a 95 million Euro allocation for salary payments to the Afghan National Police (ANP) and said that the Afghan government would be held responsible for dispersing the money transparently.
The the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Afghan Deputy Minister of Interior have praised EU's generosity in supporting the ANP, a core wing of the Afghan security forces that assumed many operational duties from foreign troops in lead up to NATO's December withdraw.
Van Gool spoke about the importance of the Afghan security forces, and their professionalism, for the future of Afghanistan. "The Job of the Afghan police officer, is difficult and very, very dangerous," he acknowledged.
"We respect the dedication and courage of each officer and we pay tribute to every man and woman out there for their duty, for the sense of duty and their professionalism."
Meanwhile, Alvaro Rodriguez, the Afghanistan Country Director for UNDP, also applauded the EU for its efforts to help support the continued developed of the Afghan police. "The European Union delegation is a key partner in support, not only to LOTFA but to UNDP and the UN as well," Rodriguez said.
According to the Ministry of Interior, the EU is the third largest aid provider for the ministry. The EU has donated a total of 592 million USD to the ANP.
Afghan government officials said that international aids for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are not enough emphasizing at a meeting on Wednesday in Kabul that the officials must propose a new set of recommendations at the NATO summit in Wales to increase aids.
During the meeting, Afghan officials and representatives from various countries discussed finalizing the agenda for the NATO summit, which will be held on September 4 and 5 in Wales, Britain.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Wednesday warned that if disagreements and tensions between the electoral teams and election officials persist the vote audit process could face weeks of delays.
The comments came after a brawl broke out between representatives of Abdullah Abdullah's camp and IEC employees at the audit center on Tuesday night. The incident, in which knives and scissors were reportedly wielded as weapons, left seven people injured and caused the audit process to be delayed three hours on Wednesday.
The United Nations, which is helping oversee and mediate the audit process, has condemned the clash and called on the two candidates to keep their observers in line.
"A guy who was working as a daily wager asked not to have his picture taken, a dispute occurred, he was alone, and later on the issue grew," said IEC Chief Ahamd Yousaf Nuristani, recounting the brawl that took place on Tuesday.
Abdullah's team has claimed that the incident occurred when IEC staff members were found trying to steal the locks off ballot boxes.
"Obsevers of the Reform and Partnership team saw that they broke two ballot box locks and put hands on another, then an observer of the Reform and Partnership team asked them to be careful with the ballot boxes," claimed Amrullah Aman, a member of the Abdullah technical team.
At the IEC's audit center on Wednesday, tensions were still simmering, forcing officials to delay the start of the process and bring in extra staff to breakup any confrontations that might occur.
Although the two camps have been largely positioned against one another when it comes to matters of the vote audit, following Tuesday's incident, they were united in their criticism of the IEC.
"I condemn the mismanagement of the election commission, the election commission must take control of this institution, it should be asked how the weapons managed to enter the IEC," said Dawoud Sultanzoi, the head of Ashraf Ghani's technical team.
The IEC has maintained that the weapons that were used and caused injury on Tuesday night were smuggled into the center by the campaign teams.
"It seems that the knifes, gun and other items were transferred to the commission inside the cars of high ranking electoral team members who we have allowed to enter the IEC premises," Nuristani said on Wednesday.
The IEC has said if the delays continue, the auditing process could be prolonged another few weeks.
In a press release on Wednesday, the UN said it would welcome the establishment of a committee to investigate the incident that occurred on Tuesday.
According to the UN, more than 12,000 of the 22,828 ballot boxes have been audited so far.
After writing an article on August 18 discussing the current election and rumored talk of the formation of an interim government, Matthew Rosenberg, a senior reporter at The New York Times, was told by the Afghan Attorney General's office on Wednesday to leave the country within 24 hours.
Mr. Rosenberg, who has been based in Kabul for The Times for three years, was initially, on Tuesday, called in for questioning and then later issued a travel ban by the Attorney General's office. According to staff of the country's top prosecutor, the decision to have Mr. Rosenberg leave the country came after he declined to reveal the sources he used in his story.
"After investigation, the Attorney General's office has come to the conclusion that Rosenberg's presence in Afghanistan will endanger the national interests of Afghanistan, so the Attorney General's office has decided that he [Rosenber] should leave Afghanistan within 24 hours," spokesman for the Attorney General Baseer Azizi said. He added that "any Afghan journal publishing such things would face the same consequences."
Officials at the Presidential Palace have also spoken out on the issue, criticizing The New York Times' coverage of the presidential election as baseless and divisive. The story Mr. Rosenberg wrote that has gotten him in trouble quotes anonymous ministry sources discussing the possibility of threatening to form an interim government in order to break the election stalemate.
Afghan media advocacy groups, along with the U.S. State Department, have criticized the decision to question and expel Mr. Rosenberg.
Nai, an Afghan media watchdog, has vocally defended The Times reporter's rights, and said that any issues must be judged within the parameters of Afghanistan's Mass Media Law.
"A reporter has the right to access information, and whenever there is a complaint against a reporter, the complaint must be reviewed on the bases of the Mass Media Law and not in a selective manner," said Sediqullah Tawhedi, the head of Nai.
Rosenberg is the first foreign journalist forced out of Afghanistan by Afghan legal authorities since the 2001 invasion.