Aggregated News about Afghanistan

ECC in Herat Inspects Close to 1000 Ballot Boxes

TOLO News - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 16:30



The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) in Herat has investigated close to 1,000 ballot boxes from roughly 100 polling centers.

Head of ECC in Herat said that efforts will be made to separate the fraudulent votes from genuine votes.

The 1,000 ballot boxes that have been reviewed are from Shindand, Keshk Kuhna, Gelran, Aaraskan and other districts of Herat city.

"About 183 centers ballot boxes have been separated because of suspicious acts and its inspection will start tomorrow," ECC head in Herat, Abdullah Sherzai said. "In addition, there are 94 other centers that need to be inspected and reviewed of which 75 centers were instructed to be reviewed by the ECC headquarters and 19 of it were complaints by local and international observers."

Meanwhile, Sherzai reports that a group of observers from Kabul arrived in Herat to inspect centers where fraud was of concern.

"These inspections include both recount and audit, both with very specific instructions from the head office," Dr. Muhammad Daoud Sediqzad, IEC head of Herat, said.

Recount process in Herat started on Wednesday and is still ongoing.

Although, votes from many centers in Herat have been recounted, none of the votes have been voided yet.

Recounting Continues In Balkh

TOLO News - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 16:03

Out of the 83 ballot boxes from 17 voting centers in the province of Balkh, only 30 ballot boxes have been recounted. The Independent Election Commission (IEC) officials in Balkh said the ballot boxes are from Mazar-e-Sharif and surrounding districts.

The recount is taking place on the basis that the IEC headquarters in Kabul issued instructions in differentiating real from fake to ensure the cleanest and fairest election result possible.

IEC is performing the recount on the request of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC). ECC's condition was that the recounts take place in the presence of the ECC and IEC representatives, observers and officials of the presidential campaigns.

"The public's demand and our will are to make sure transparency is maintained during the whole process," Muhammad Anabi, ECC member in Balkh, said.

Another member of the ECC, Daoud Muhammad Anabi, added that they will attempt to complete the recounting process today.

Meanwhile, residents of Balkh call on the election commission to provide fair and neutral results.

"We ask the IEC and ECC to separate the clean and honest votes of the people from the unclean ballots," resident of Balkh Abdul Qayoum said. "The real votes of the people must be presented to the people."

ECC officials in Balkh assured the residents that they will provide neutrality throughout the course.

Ballot boxes in review are from Mazar-e-Sharif, Chemtal, Balkh, Zare and Kushenda districts of Balkh province.

TOLOnews 6pm News 19 April 2014

TOLO News - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 15:58

Top news in this Bulletin:

Officials of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) say preliminary results will be announced on April 24, but it is still unclear when the release of overall findings will be announced.

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IEC officials said that over 70 percent of the results have been investigated and completed, but they still have to be double checked before finalizing count.

Health Minister Summoned to Parliament

TOLO News - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 15:49

Afghanistan's House of Representatives summoned Suraya Daleel, Minister of Health, because the health sector has not addressed major problems such as lack of medicine and sanitary hospitals in the past few years.

Minister Daleel says the reason behind this problem is the lack of sufficient budget. Members of the house were not satisfied with Daleel's response criticizing her inefficient effort.

"Private clinics are very expensive," Member of Parliament Zemrak Padkhwayee said. "What have you done for the people of Afghanistan? Why are our poor people so over charged?"

Another Member of Parliament, Kubra Mustafawi, exclaimed that children have died in hospitals because there is no efficient and up-to-date medical technology.

"I can provide you with the specific address of the children who died in hospitals due to the lack of a CT scan," MP Mustafawi said.

In response to these claims, Daleel said that the government must invest in fixing the situation.

"If we want a 21st century standard medicine in Afghanistan, it will have costs," Daleel said.

The session of Parliament ended without any results because of disorder and multiple criticisms from Member of Parliaments.

IEC Unclear When Final Results Will Be Announced

TOLO News - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 15:25

Officials of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) say preliminary results will be announced on April 24, but it is still unclear when the release of overall findings will be announced.

IEC officials said that over 70 percent of the results have been investigated and completed, but they still have to be double checked before finalizing count.

"IEC will do its best to announce preliminary results as scheduled, but for now we cannot specify a time," IEC Spokesman Noor Muhammad Noor said. "We can give you percentages only when the process has ended, but so far we are still in process."

Based on the election timeline on IEC's website, preliminary results are to be announced in five days with final results released on May 15th.

On Election Day people voted unprecedentedly despite all the challenges and threats to elect their future leader. People are demanding transparency from election commissions is among demands of people.

Category A Complaints Inspection to End in Two Days

TOLO News - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 14:26

Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) said 52 percent of Category A complaints has been addressed. ECC states that Category A complaints are backed by hard evidence that will directly impact the election results if proved true.

ECC Spokesman Nader Mohseni says that their primary focus is Category A complaints.

"If proved true, these complaints can have an impact on the result of elections," Mohseni said. "The review is continuing and we hope to complete the process in the next two days."

Earlier this week ECC recounted and audited votes from roughly 1,000 voting centers; findings from this review are still unknown.

"Based on a request from the ECC, IEC inspected and recounted votes from provincial offices," Mohseni said. "Our ECC representatives are present during the recounting."

Both ECC and IEC have not specified the number of votes analyzed.

TAKANI: The Election Process

TOLO News - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 13:43

In this episode of Takani, host Zabiullah Sadat discusses the election process with the following guests:

• Bismiullah Afghan, Senator

• Mir Ahmad Sirat, professor at the University

• Qazi Ismaelzada, civil society activist

• Ahmad Saeedi, Political analyst

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ELECTION DAY 2014: Roles of Women in Elections

TOLO News - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 13:24

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Enayatullah Mudaris discusses the roles of women in the elections and the challenges ahead of the election process. The following guests are:

• Dr. Alima, women activist

• Dr. Humaira Qaderi, civil society activist

• Kamela Sediqqi, head of Kaween company

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4 Taliban Insurgents Killed in Afghan Army Operation

TOLO News - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 10:53

The Ministry of Defense stated on Saturday that at least four Taliban insurgents were killed and six others were injured in an Afghan army operation early Friday.

The statement read: "within the last 24 hours, the Afghan army conducted several operations across the country killing four militants, wounding six others and arresting four armed militants."

Army specialists found and defused 55 roadside bombs and landmines during the operation.

The statement did not offer details about Afghan army casualties during the operation.

These operations have increased throughout Afghanistan to clear the country of insurgents.

Foreign troops in Afghanistan are scheduled to leave by the end of 2014 with the end of the NATO combat mission, after which the ASF – currently numbering at around 300,000– will take over full security responsibility of the country. According to NATO and Afghan officials, the ASF have already assumed the bulk of leadership on operations throughout the country.

Of the roughly 80,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, around 47,000 are Americans.

America’s Last Task in Kabul

New York Times Topic:Afghanistan - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 06:00
The United States must first focus on handing over the peacemaking to Afghanistan’s neighbors to end the war quickly.

First Earth-Sized Planet Found in 'Habitable Zone': NASA

TOLO News - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 05:16

The hunt for potential life in outer space has taken a step forward -- an international team of researchers has discovered the first Earth-sized planet within the "habitable zone" of another star.

The exoplanet dubbed Kepler-186f was first spotted by scientists using NASA's Kepler telescope, according to research published Thursday in the US journal Science.

The exoplanet, located some 500 light years from Earth, orbits in what is seen as the sweet spot around its star: not too close and not too far, so it could have liquid water, considered a crucial component to possibly hosting life.

"The discovery of Kepler-186f is a significant step toward finding worlds like our planet Earth," said Paul Hertz, NASA's Astrophysics Division director at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

The planet is "the right size and is at the right distance to have properties that are similar to our home planet," said Elisa Quintana of the SETI Institute at NASA's Ames Research Center in California, the lead author of the paper published in Science.

"We can now say that other potentially habitable worlds, similar in size to Earth, can exist. It's no longer in the realm of science fiction," she said, speaking at a press conference.

Kepler-186f is around 1.1-times the size of Earth -- which researchers say is key to predicting the composition of the surface and its atmosphere.

When planets are 1.5 times the size of Earth or larger, many of them seem to attract a thick hydrogen and helium layer that makes them start to resemble gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn.

Kepler-186f is the fifth and outermost planet orbiting the Kepler-186 star, right on the far edge of that solar system's habitable zone, meaning the surface temperature might not be warm enough to stop water from freezing.

"However, it is also slightly larger than the Earth, and so the hope would be that this would result in a thicker atmosphere that would provide extra insulation," explained San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane, another member of the team behind the discovery.

- Tracking 'transits' -

Scientists using the NASA's Kepler telescope first discovered it by tracking "transits" -- shadows that cross in front of the star.

The finding was confirmed by observations from the W.M. Keck and Gemini Observatories.

But current technology does not allow astronomers to see the celestial body directly or do any analysis to determine its atmosphere or composition.

"Some people call these habitable planets, which of course we have no idea if they are," said Kane. "We simply know that they are in the habitable zone, and that is the best place to start looking for habitable planets."

Solar systems like Kepler-186, with an M-Dwarf star at its center, may be the best chance for finding a habitable planet, because there are so many of such stars and because many are very nearby.

However, because M-dwarfs are cooler, smaller and dimmer than our sun, they interact differently with planets, the researchers said.

Kepler-186f is therefore "more like an Earth cousin than an Earth twin. It has similar characteristics but a different parent," Tom Barclay, researcher at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ames, said at the NASA press conference.

And whether Kepler-186f is actually habitable would depend largely on the planet's surface temperature, which would be linked to whether it has an atmosphere and what that atmosphere was like, Barclay explained.

Future missions are being designed to characterize the planets around M Dwarfs in more detail, he said.

However, because its star is quite dim, Kepler-186f may not be suitable for follow-up studies, Quintana had explained earlier.

"However, our research tells us that we should be able to find planets around bright stars that will be ideal targets to observe" with telescopes like NASA's Webb orbiting telescope, currently under construction, she said in a press release.

Of nearly 1,800 planets detected over the past 20 years, only around 20 orbit within the so-called "habitable zone" -- and all appear to be larger than Earth, which makes it harder to tell whether or not they are gas giants.

The Kepler space telescope, launched in March 2009, observes some 150,000 stars, a few thousand of which have been found to have possible planets.

Helmand Promoted Among Grade A Provinces

TOLO News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 16:03

President Karzai and the Ministers council have announced that Helmand province has been promoted from a Grade B province to a Grade A province, according to Helmand officials.

Grade A province is a province that will receive greater government support because of the increasingly large population and territory. Other provinces that are a part of the Grade A category include Kandahar, Heart, Balkh, Nangarhar and few others.

Helmand residents celebrated the news with dancing and music held at the Karzai Sport Stadium.

"Becoming a Grade A provinces has its benefits," Governor of Helmand, Muhammad Naeem, said. "There is an increase in the number of representatives at the Parliament and council levels, increase in budget, improvement of education and agriculture."

The Governor adds that the promotion to Grade A has not been completed. They are waiting for the final approval of the House of Representatives, which will be fulfilled soon.

Helmand is located in the southern part of Afghanistan making up 10 percent of the country's land, according to officials.

TOLOnews 6pm News 18 April 2014

TOLO News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 15:58

Top news in this Bulletin:

Suspicious votes from roughly 1,000 voting centers were recounted and reviewed by the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) on Thursday.

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Votes from 457 centers have been recounted while votes from an estimated 400 other centers have been reviewed. IEC officials said after recounting they found a number of votes to be invalid, though the exact number of voided ballots has yet to be determined.

Karzai Confident Candidates Will Respect Election Outcome

TOLO News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 15:45

In his weekly statement aired by Afghanistan's national media, Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), President Hamid Karzai announced that the April 5 elections not only created history, but will bring positive change to Afghanistan's stability and security situations.

During his talk he urged electoral bodies, specifically the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) that they not only fairly account for results, but announce final results as scheduled.

"The next steps are counting ballots, filing complaints and investigating the complaints," President Karzai said. "The ECC and IEC are working on these and I hope that the final results are announced on time."

He added that the IEC and ECC to abode neutrality and impartiality during the counting and investigation processes so that the public trust is maintained. He added that he admired the massive turnout on Election Day despite threats the people voted for the future of their country. He hopes that the candidates respect the outcome of elections.

In addition, presidential candidates have said that the nation is keeping close eye on the actions of the electoral bodies.

"The election commissions must prove its neutrality, credibility, trust and quality through every step because this is the future of Afghanistan and its people," Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah said. "They must realize their responsibility."

Presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai also emphasized on the neutrality of the electoral bodies as the election process begins to wind down.

"We want transparency so that the fundamental principles, which will be executed in Afghanistan for the first time, are maintained if we move on to a runoff in order to prevent frauds and continue our national cooperation in an environment of trust and mutual respect," Ghani said.

The 2014 presidential and provincial council's election is considered a milestone in the political history of Afghanistan because of the unprecedented turnout; the Afghan people defied security threats and intimidation of the Taliban. The election will mark the first democratic transition of political power from one elected president to another.

IEC Recounts and Reviews Suspicious Votes

TOLO News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 15:45

Suspicious votes from roughly 1,000 voting centers were recounted and reviewed by the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) on Thursday.

Votes from 457 centers have been recounted while votes from an estimated 400 other centers have been reviewed. IEC officials said after recounting they found a number of votes to be invalid, though the exact number of voided ballots has yet to be determined.

"IEC's focuses are in three specific areas: recount votes, audit voting centers and void fraudulent ballots," IEC Spokesman Noor Muhammad Noor said. "IEC has a specific framework and they are working based on that."

IEC says votes from 600 polling centers that were considered mistrustful by the ECC is also being recounted.
The investigation period ended Thursday with only the review and recounting process ongoing.

"In total, there are 575 centers that were specified by ECC to IEC that needed to be reviewed and recounted," Noor said. "The investigation period was to separate the genuine votes from rigged votes. Now we're in second phase where the votes will be recounted and reviewed. We will be cooperative with the ECC during the recounting and reviewing procedure."

Result sheets that were sent to the IEC headquarters without secure packaging is being reviewed by IEC members.

IEC says that the preliminary results will be announced in the upcoming week tentatively scheduled for April 24.

Writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez dead at 87

TOLO News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 14:28



AFP - Colombia's Nobel-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez died Thursday in Mexico City at the age of 87, the Colombian president said.

"One thousand years of solitude and sadness for the death of the greatest Colombian of all time," Juan Manuel Santos wrote on Twitter.

Garcia Marquez, the author of "One Hundred Years of Solitude," passed away at his home with his wife and two sons by his side, Mexico's Televisa anchor Joaquin Lopez-Doriga said on Twitter.

The cause of death was not immediately known but Garcia Marquez spent one week at hospital earlier this month to be treated for pneumonia.

He had been convalescing in his Mexico City home, where he has lived for more than three decades

One dead as S. Korea ferry with 476 passengers sinks

TOLO News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 14:21



Seoul (AFP) - South Korea's coastguard said Wednesday one person had been killed as it struggled to rescue 476 people -- mostly high school students -- aboard a ferry that ran aground and sank off the southern coast.

Lee Gyeong-Og, the vice minister of security and public administration, told a press briefing in Seoul that he could only confirm the rescue of 161 people so far.

However, he added that commercial ships involved in the operation were understood to have rescued a significant number of people.

"The ferry is almost completely submerged," Lee said, adding that a detachment of South Korean Navy SEALS were taking part in the rescue.
Lee had said there were no reports of casualties so far, but the coastguard later said one person had been killed.

"We have recovered one body from the ship so far," a spokesman told AFP.

Photos broadcast on television showed the ship initially tilted over 45 degrees on the port side with helicopters flying overhead, and then fully capsized with only its stern visible.

Of the 450 passengers on board the ferry bound for the southern resort island of Jeju, 325 were students from a high school in Ansan, south of Seoul. The remainder of those on board were crew.

Coastguard officials said the crew sent out a distress signal at 9:00 am (0000 GMT) with passenger testimony suggesting it may have run aground.

The 6,825-tonne ferry, which had sailed out of the western port of Incheon on Tuesday evening, ran into trouble some 20 kilometres (13 miles) off the island of Byungpoong.

Distraught parents of the students gathered at the high school in Ansan, desperate for news.

TV footage showed a chaotic scene in the school's auditorium, with parents yelling at school officials and frantically trying to make phone calls to their children.

"I talked to my daughter. She said she had been rescued along with 10 other students," one mother told the YTN news channel.

"They said they had jumped into the water before getting rescued. One was injured in the leg and is being treated in hospital," she said.

Lee Gyeong-Og said 34 naval, coastguard and civilian vessels were involved in the rescue operation, along with 18 helicopters.

In a personal message, President Park Geun-Hye "ordered us to make efforts not to leave a single casualty," he said.

The ferry manifest included 150 cars.

Hundreds of ferries ply the waters between the South Korean mainland and its multiple offshore islands every day, and accidents are relatively rare.

However in one of the worst incidents, nearly 300 people died when a ferry capsized off the western coast in October, 1993.

6:30 REPORT: Afghanistan's Third Presidential Election

TOLO News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 07:25

In this week of 6:30 Report, host Anisa Shahid explores the past presidential and provincial councils elections.

To watch the video, click here:

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ELECTION DAY 2014: Electoral Commissions Performance

TOLO News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 07:14

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Omid Farooq discussed the electoral commissions performances after Election Day with the following guests:

Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhil, IEC Secretariat

Nader Mohseni, ECC Spokesman

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TAKANI: Diversities of 2014 Elections compared to Past Election

TOLO News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 07:11

In this episode of Takani, host Zabiullah Sadat discussed diversities of the April 5 elections with past elections in Afghanistan.

Guests:

Naeem Asghari, Head of Planning in FEFA

Asef Wardak, Freelance Journalist

Hamidullah Hotak, Tribal Elder

Abdullah Poyan, Political Expert

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