Jeremy's Feed
Aug 6, 2014

Where do we start? Afghan unity talks at early impasse

KABUL (Reuters) – The two men vying to become Afghanistan’s next leader may have shaken hands on a deal to resolve a bitterly disputed election, but they are miles apart on a critical component of their gentleman’s agreement – forming a united government.

Four months after Afghans first went to the polls to choose President Hamid Karzai’s successor, the final result could still be weeks, possibly months away, as hundreds of international monitors painstakingly audit the ballot – one vote at a time – to vet for fraud.

Jul 24, 2014

Afghan vote recount moves at snail’s pace, rival sides far apart

KABUL (Reuters) – The dusty ballot box from the disputed Afghan presidential election was supposed to contain 550 votes. When auditors cut the seal they found barely 30 votes inside.

Both candidates cried foul, accusing the other camp of stealing votes from a June 14 run-off presidential ballot, the results of which are still being squabbled over amid allegations of widespread vote rigging.

May 19, 2014

Castles in the air: Afghans pay a heavy price for uncertainty

KABUL, May 19 (Reuters) – A bored security guard, a
Kalashnikov rifle over his shoulder, stands guard alone outside
an idle construction site for a 10-storey building in downtown
Kabul, one of more than a dozen concrete shells with not a
single construction worker in sight.

It was meant to be boom-time after decades of war and
privation, with shiny new shopping malls springing up around the
Afghan capital and construction cranes dotting Kabul’s
spectacular, snow-capped horizon over the past few years.

May 13, 2014

Outgoing Afghan leader not going anywhere, to U.S. chagrin

KABUL (Reuters) – In central Kabul, a few minutes’ walk from the ornate presidential office, workmen are putting the finishing touches to an imposing new residence and office complex: the retirement compound of the outgoing Afghan president.

It is an eloquent metaphor. Hamid Karzai may be officially leaving, but his influence will loom large over the new leader.

May 12, 2014

Afghan fighting worsens as foreign troops withdraw: report

KABUL (Reuters) – Taliban militants launched a declared summer offensive across Afghanistan on Monday and a prominent think-tank forecast a bloody future as foreign combat forces prepare to leave.

In a report, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said the number of Islamist insurgent attacks had increased by 15-20 percent in 2013 from a year earlier, and a similar trend continued into the first half of 2014.

May 9, 2014

Afghanistan’s ‘forgotten’ poor wince as billions in aid go to badlands

AAB BAREEK/KABUL Afghanistan (Reuters) – For all the billions of dollars in foreign aid that have poured into Afghanistan over the past 12 years, Sajeda, her head-to-toe burqa covered in dust, sobs that the world has forgotten the poorest of the poor in the largely untroubled north of the country.

A deadly landslide last week exposed the extreme poverty in the remote mountainous area and also highlighted one of the paradoxes of Western aid: the northern region which supported the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 has got significantly less help than the south and east, home of the Taliban militants.

Apr 26, 2014

Afghan election set for Abdullah-Ghani run-off

KABUL (Reuters) – The Afghanistan election is set to go to a second round run-off between former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani after none of the candidates won an absolute majority, preliminary results showed on Saturday.

Abdullah finished top with 44.9 percent, followed by Ghani with 31.5 percent, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said. Zalmay Rassoul was a distant third with 11.5 percent.

Apr 26, 2014

Afghans brace for another round of voting, bargaining begins

KABUL (Reuters) – The leading candidates in the race to become Afghanistan’s next president have started lobbying in anticipation of a run-off with final preliminary election results on Saturday expected to show none of the eight runners winning an absolute majority.

Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani – both former ministers in President Hamid Karzai’s government – share three-quarters of the votes counted so far, but voting trends show that neither will secure the 50 percent needed to win outright.

Apr 24, 2014

Afghan presidential election set for Abdullah-Ghani run-off

KABUL (Reuters) – The Afghanistan presidential vote is poised to go to a run-off, the election chief said on Thursday, after the latest tally of ballots showed neither Abdullah Abdullah nor Ashraf Ghani securing an outright majority.

Former foreign minister Abdullah and ex-World Bank official Ghani have taken an insurmountable lead, but both are polling well under 50 percent with just over 82 percent of the vote counted, setting the stage for a second round between the pair in late May.

Apr 23, 2014

Hole in Afghan budget stirs unease as West starts packing bags

KABUL (Reuters) – A $375 million hole in the Afghan budget is threatening public projects and civil servants’ salaries, officials say, putting the aid-dependent economy under stress just as Afghanistan awaits a new leader and foreign troops prepare to go home.

U.S., U.N. and Afghan finance ministry officials have discussed ways to resolve what they say has become a critical situation for the budget, with civil projects most at risk as international assistance starts to taper off.