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Jul 15, 2014

Afghanistan back from brink, but vote recount fraught with risk

KABUL (Reuters) – The euphoria over a U.S.-brokered deal between Afghanistan’s rival presidential candidates at the weekend was a sign of how close some people believe the country came to a split along ethnic lines that could quickly turn violent.

The speed at which that relief has evaporated suggests the political crisis, playing out as foreign troops prepare to withdraw after more than a decade policing the war-torn nation, is not over yet.

Jul 9, 2014

Afghan war inflicting devastating toll on civilians: U.N.

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s war is inflicting an increasingly devastating toll on the civilian population, with the number of casualties rising by almost a quarter in the first half of this year, the United Nations said in a report on Wednesday.

U.S.-led forces are gradually withdrawing from military bases scattered across Afghanistan after 12 years of war against Taliban insurgents, contributing to deteriorating security, with civilians bearing the brunt of the violence.

Jul 8, 2014

Afghanistan’s Abdullah rejects election result as ‘coup’ against people

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan presidential contender Abdullah Abdullah’s camp rejected preliminary results of last month’s run-off election on Monday as a “coup” against the people, putting him on a dangerous collision course with his rival, Ashraf Ghani.

The Independent Election Commission announced on Monday that Ghani won the June 14 second round with 56.44 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results. The tally might change when the final official numbers come out on July 22.

Jul 7, 2014

Afghanistan’s Ghani wins presidential election: prelim results

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan declared former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani the winner of last month’s presidential election on Monday on the basis of preliminary results from a messy vote that has threatened to split the country along ethnic lines.

Ghani’s rival, Abdullah Abdullah, claimed widespread fraud in the election and insisted the announcement of results should be delayed until all fraudulent votes were thrown out.

Jul 7, 2014

Afghan candidates in last minute talks to defuse election crisis

KABUL (Reuters) – Rival Afghan presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani are holding last-minute talks to try to defuse a standoff over the outcome of a troubled election, their spokespeople said on Monday.

Afghanistan is due to announce preliminary results of the run-off vote at 2 p.m. (5.30 a.m. EDT). Official final results are due on July 22.

Jul 6, 2014

On eve of election results, Afghan candidate sends warning to rival

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah warned his rival on Sunday he would refuse to accept the outcome of the country’s troubled election unless he saw firm evidence that the vote was completely free of fraud.

His warning, on the eve of preliminary election results due out on Monday, sets the stage for a possibly violent confrontation with his rival Ashraf Ghani, a standoff which has threatened to divide the fragile country along ethnic lines.

Jul 5, 2014

Afghan presidential candidate rules out coalition deal

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani ruled out a coalition government with his rival Abdullah Abdullah on Saturday, quashing hopes for a power-sharing deal to defuse tensions that have threatened to split Afghanistan along ethnic lines.

Ghani and Abdullah have locked horns since the June 14 second round run-off, accusing each other of trying to manipulate the vote and declaring victory in the contest to succeed Hamid Karzai as president.

Jul 3, 2014

EU monitors urge Afghanistan to widen election fraud probe

KABUL (Reuters) – European observers urged Afghanistan to deepen its investigation into vote-rigging on Thursday as candidates held closed-door meetings to try to resolve a deadlock threatening to split the country along ethnic lines.

Former resistance fighter Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani have locked horns over the outcome of the June 14 run-off election, with both claiming victory in the contest to succeed Hamid Karzai as president.

Jun 22, 2014

Prominent Pakistan cleric threatens to lead ‘revolution’

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A prominent Pakistani cleric, who is due to return to his homeland on Monday, has threatened to lead mass protests against the government as part of his plan to stage a peaceful “revolution” to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The preacher, Tahirul Qadri, is a divisive figure in Pakistan where he made headlines last year when he led mass rallies against the government. He is usually based in Canada.

Jun 17, 2014

Pakistan army in for long haul in offensive against Taliban

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – After months of dithering, Pakistan’s army has launched an offensive against Taliban insurgents near the border with Afghanistan but the tough terrain, a potentially hostile local population and the possibility of revenge attacks in heartland cities could be more difficult to conquer than the militants.

Pakistan announced on Sunday it was sending ground forces, artillery and helicopter gunships to the remote, mountainous tribal region of North Waziristan in a long-awaited military operation designed to eliminate the al Qaeda-linked insurgents.