TOLOnews.com RSS Feed http://tolonews.com/ Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:45:53 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) TOLOnews 6 pm News 22 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15679-tolonews-6-pm-news-22-july-2014 alt

Officials of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) have said that the audit process will face challenges if the presidential candidates do not agree on the standard auditing procedures, which entails a checklist on what needs to be inspected.

To watch the bulletin, click here:

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The Deputy head of the IEC, Abdul Rahman Hotaki, urged the presidential candidates to finalize the technicalities of the audit as soon as possible otherwise the audit process will encounter disputes.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:39:48 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15679-tolonews-6-pm-news-22-july-2014
No Option But National Unity Government: Spanta http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15678-no-option-but-national-unity-government-spanta alt

Afghan National Security Advisor Dr. Rangeen Dadfar Spanta on Tuesday warned of potential danger in relying too much on the election commissions or allowing one of the political teams to be excluded from the structure of the next government.

Spanta, one of Afghanistan's top security officials, stressed that the transcript of the political settlement made between Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah remains in the U.S. Embassy, and that a legal agreement needs to be established to bolster its terms.

"National unity government doesn't mean that someone is selected by the existing institutions and later on does whatever he wants, it means that two major political process emerged today whether we like them or not," Spanta said. "These two political forces must sit on the basis of their national responsibilities and form the national unity government, but by bringing reforms."

Spanta's comments came at a policy discussion organized in Kabul on Tuesday by the Afghanistan Center of Strategic Studies regarding the formation of the national unity government. He highlighted the public's mistrust of the election commissions and emphasized the importance of seeing through the agreement made between the candidates, and solidifying it in legal form.

"For further expansion of partnership, before getting the certification of the election commission, I think it would be good if the candidates reach an agreement, and a copy of the agreement regarding the framework of such an agreement exists in the U.S. embassy," Spanta added.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Kabul last week in order to meet with the candidates and negotiate an end to the stalemate between them that had driven the country to the edge of crisis. The terms they negotiated included the comprehensive auditing of election results and formation of a national unity government following the release of the results.

On Tuesday, Spanta emphasized the importance of honoring the agreement to structure an inclusive national unity government. He cautioned that any attempt to push one of the electoral camps from the national unity government would have damaging consequences. Spanta said that he respects the existing Afghan Constitution, but supports the amendments that have been proposed to create a Prime Minister position.

"Any approach for increasing a particular ethnicity or decreasing another or any attempt for pushing out one of the groups from the structure of the national unity government would be dangerous and would not help the country out of stalemate," Spanta said.

A number of legal experts have, over the past week, weighed in on the agreement between the candidates and highlighted the importance of legal frameworks in resolving the election disputes.

"Political negotiations yield positive outcomes at a time that there is a legal framework," said Mohammad Amin Ahmadi, a member of the commission overseeing implementation of the constitution.

Meanwhile, Spanta spoke briefly about his possible role in the future government. "The political community should remember that we are a part of the power and we will be in the opposition or part of the partnership in the future."

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:39:44 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15678-no-option-but-national-unity-government-spanta
U.S. Mediation Came at Request of President, Candidates: Dobbins http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15677-us-mediation-came-at-request-of-president-candidates-dobbins alt

Although the "national unity government" terminology used in the agreement between Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah has been subject to some debate in recent days, the U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, James Dobbins, on Tuesday stressed that the candidates are on the same page and have agreed to the terms.

Dobbins spoke at a press conference on Tuesday and said that both candidates have agreed as part of their negotiations with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the winner of the election will serve as the president and the other candidate as a chief executive.

"I think to certain degree this is up to the two candidates themselves to define, but the concept is that there will be a president, there will be a chief executive officer who will be nominated by the loser, if you will, and appointed by the president, obviously they have to agree on that, there will be discussions between them about the distribution of portfolios," Dobbins said.

Since the settlement agreement between the candidates was made, staving off a crisis that many feared would ruin any chances of a peaceful transition of power this year, President Hamid Karzai has been said to be upset over the intervention of the U.S. in the election process. However, on Tuesday, Dobbins said that the mediation was conducted upon the request of the president and the two presidential candidates.

"I don't think what we are doing now is interfering, we are here at the invitation of both candidates and the president of the country," Dobbins said. "I think that the public reaction to an agreement that was reached last week was one of relief, I think that there is widespread support for the process."

Dobbins called on the candidates to remain committed to the promises they made in the agreement, including the national unity government formation as well as accepting the results from a comprehensive vote audit.

"Both candidates have explicitly and unqualifiedly agreed to accept the results of the audit and we anticipate that they will do so, they have repeated to me and they have repeated to Secretary Kerry that they would respect the results of this audit and we fully expect them to do so," Dobbins said.

Dobbins expressed satisfaction with the vote auditing process so far, but indicated he hoped that the process would move forward according to the election schedule so that the transfer of power from Karzai to the next president can happen in a timely manner.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:30:14 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15677-us-mediation-came-at-request-of-president-candidates-dobbins
IEC to Halt Audit Process if Candidates Do Not Reach Agreement http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15676-iec-to-halt-audit-process-if-candidates-do-not-reach-agreement alt

Officials of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) have said that the audit process will face challenges if the presidential candidates do not agree on the standard auditing procedures, which entails a checklist on what needs to be inspected.

The Deputy head of the IEC, Abdul Rahman Hotaki, urged the presidential candidates to finalize the technicalities of the audit as soon as possible otherwise the audit process will encounter disputes.

"Yesterday, we sent letters to both teams to agree on the procedure, otherwise the commission will decide based on its former procedure, or we will be forced to stop the audit process," Hotaki said.

Abdullah Abdullah's observers said that the absence of the finalized audit checklist has faced them with challenges, adding that they do not have an issue on their side claiming that rival Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's team is who is stalling the process.

"We accepted the procedure with its details and are waiting for our rival team to sign it, unfortunately, our opponent has not yet signed it," said Mujiburrahman Rahimi, Abdullah's camp spokesman.

Former presidential candidate in the first round of elections, Daoud Sultanzoy, now a member of Ghani-Ahmadzai's teams, says that an agreement on the auditing method will be finalized end of Tuesday, stressing that the invalidation of votes must be in accordance to the audit process.

"Both candidates will agree on the matter today," Sultanzoy said. "But if votes are invalidated it should be based on IEC's procedure to ensure that discrimination is not allowed."

Mohammad Naeem Asghari, a program manager at the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) said that, "the election is a national process and a global phenomenon as well. So holding a free and fair election needs to be according to the international standards, not according to the deference demands of a particular person and groups."

The officials of the commission also reported that increases of technical groups are needed to speed up the auditing process.

The commission added that since the start of the audits a total of, roughly, 700 ballots boxes have been audited by Tuesday afternoon illustrating that the plan to audit 1,000 boxes a day has failed. The IEC made a statement saying that at this rate the audit procedure will take several months.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:03:18 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15676-iec-to-halt-audit-process-if-candidates-do-not-reach-agreement
MPs Demand Details of Candidate Agreements http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15675-mps-demand-details-of-candidate-agreements alt

Legislators on Tuesday demanded that the presidential candidates provide the details of their agreements on topics such as the "national unity government" and the role of MPs in the next government.

MPs said that the candidates should avoid forging barriers during the auditing process, stressing that the process needs to move forward without any hurdles to avoid lengthening the election procedure.

First Deputy Speaker for Senate, Sediq Ahmad Osmani, stated that any agreement between the candidates must be conducted within the framework of the constitution.

"We support any sort of agreement between the candidates as long as they are in line with the laws and the constitution," Osmani said. "The House of Representatives will not endorse any agreements that would violate the laws."

Legislators asked the candidates to cooperate with the audit process and facilitate to its advance.

"The 100 percent vote auditing continues under the supervision of domestic and international observers; we are not certain why the candidates keep raising criticisms," MP Fatima Aziz said. "We ask that the candidates cooperate with the audit process and end the uncertainties."

MPs assert that it is necessary to put an end to the prolonged election process.

"We demand that the candidates support the vote auditing process so that the next president is announced soon," Herat MP Khalil Ahmad Shahidzada said.

In addition, the MPs have left for a 45 day summer holiday after the 7th session of the 16th working parliamentary tenure ended on Tuesday. According to the administrative board of the lower house, the parliament approved 28 laws in the last session.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:27:07 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15675-mps-demand-details-of-candidate-agreements
ELECTION 2014: Political Agreement for New Government http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15674-election-2014-political-agreement-for-new-government alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Omid Farooq discusses about the political agreement between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai with the following the guests:

• Asadullah Sadati, MP
• Sayed Hussian Halami Balkhi, MP
• Abdul Bary Salaam, a civil society activist

To watch the whole program, click here:

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:00:28 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15674-election-2014-political-agreement-for-new-government
Taliban Shadow Governor Killed in Badakhshan Clash http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15673-taliban-shadow-governor-killed-in-badakhshan-clash alt

Taliban shadow governor, Qari Fakhruddin, and nine other insurgents were killed on Monday in a clash with Afghan security forces in north-eastern Badakhshan province, local officials said on Tuesday.

Five other insurgents were injured in the attack.

The clash took place in Jurm district of the province after the Taliban insurgents began battling with the Afghan forces in which Qari Fakhurddin, who was appointed as the shadow governor, and nine other insurgents were killed, said Ghulaam Haidar Haidari head of the 209th Shaheen Military Corps in the north zone.

He said the Afghan forces have seized the body of Qari Fakhurddin along with weapons.

The Afghan forces have launched a military operation in Jurm district in the past 20 days to clear the area of insurgents, he added.

However, he did not provide details about the casualties of the Afghan forces during the operation.

The Taliban have not yet commented about the operation.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 07:19:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15673-taliban-shadow-governor-killed-in-badakhshan-clash
Israel Pummels Gaza as World Pushes for Truce http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15672-israel-pummels-gaza-as-world-pushes-for-truce alt

Israel pummelled Gaza for a 14th day on Monday, hiking the Palestinian death toll to more than 570, as Cairo took centre stage in world efforts to broker a ceasefire.

With air strikes and shelling raining down across the besieged coastal enclave, Israel's army said seven of its soldiers had been killed, bringing the Israeli toll to 25 troops and two civilians in the bloodiest Gaza conflict since 2009.

Washington urged Israel to take "greater steps" to prevent innocent casualties, and UN chief Ban Ki-moon appealed for the violence to "stop now" as it emerged most of the dead were civilians.

But Hamas has so far rejected truce calls, insisting Monday on a lifting of Israel's siege of Gaza and the release of prisoners to cease its rocket fire.

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi urged Hamas to accept an Egyptian proposal to end the fighting it had rejected last week.

Speaking in Cairo where he had arrived to advance a truce, US Secretary of State John Kerry pledged $47 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza as he called for an end to the violence.

"We are deeply concerned about the consequences of Israel's appropriate and legitimate effort to defend itself," he told reporters as he met with the UN chief.

Both Kerry and Ban urged Hamas, the dominant force in the Gaza Strip, to accept the Egyptian-proposed ceasefire.

Monday's attacks across Gaza killed at least 56 people including 16 children, bringing the overall death toll since Israel launched its operation on July 8 to 573 Palestinians, according to figures provided by Gaza emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra.

In the costliest single Israeli bombardment, an air strike hit a residential tower block in central Gaza City, killing 11 people, including five children.

It came after Israeli tank shells struck a hospital in Deir al-Balah, killing four people, including doctors, officials said, indicating at least 70 people were wounded.

Rights group Amnesty International warned Monday that the shelling of the hospital as well as the "continuing bombardment of civilian homes" in Gaza "add to the list of possible war crimes that demand an urgent independent international investigation."

Amnesty said the Israeli attacks on civilian areas in Gaza "as well as the continuing indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel, demand urgent international action to prevent further violations."

Israel says its campaign aims to stamp out rocket fire from Gaza, and the ground phase of the operation to destroy tunnels burrowed into Israel by Hamas, the main power in the coastal strip.

Israeli rights group B'Tselem said that initial findings indicated that 25 members of the same family were killed Sunday night northeast of Khan Yunis by Israeli fire seeking a senior Hamas member.

"Information B'Tselem has at this stage indicates that no warning was issued and no warning missile was fired prior to the attack," the group said.

- 100,000 displaced -

Since the Israeli operation began on July 8, huge numbers of Gazans have fled their homes, with the UN saying more than 100,000 people have sought shelter in 69 schools run by its Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA).

Meanwhile, Israeli forces killed more than 10 Gaza militants who had infiltrated southern Israel, the army said, later announcing it had lost four soldiers in that battle.

The troops lost in that clash were among seven killed in 24 hours, said the Israeli army, adding 30 soldiers were wounded over the same period.

That brought its toll to 25 soldiers killed since the start of the operation, including 13 on Sunday, the bloodiest single day for the Israeli military since the Lebanon war of 2006.

Two Israeli civilians, both hit by rocket fire, have been killed during the 14-day campaign.

- 'Mad war' -

Hamas on Monday reiterated its insistence on a lifting of Israel's blockade of Gaza and the release of prisoners to halt its rocket fire.

"The conditions for a ceasefire are... a full lifting of the blockade and then the release of those recently detained in the West Bank," its leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said on television.

"We cannot go backwards, to a slow death," he said, referring to the Israeli blockade in force since 2006.

"The conditions of the Palestinian resistance constitute the minimum required for a truce. The resistance and the sons of our people who have made such sacrifices in this mad war cannot accept anything less."

Meanwhile, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas held talks in Doha, pledging to work together for a ceasefire and to lift the blockade on Gaza.

But there has been no let-up since the operation began with 116 rockets hitting Israel on Monday, one striking the greater Tel Aviv area, and another 17 shot down, the army said.

Violence also broke out in the West Bank, where an Israeli shot dead a Palestinian who had been throwing stones at his car, Palestinian security sources said.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said the military was investigating the death, which she said took place during "a violent riot".

Israeli police said Palestinians had rioted in east Jerusalem neighbourhoods Monday night, with no casualties.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, an Israeli was seriously wounded after a Palestinian opened fire at him from a travelling car, the army said.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 05:28:13 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15672-israel-pummels-gaza-as-world-pushes-for-truce
TAKANI: The Election Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15671-takani-the-election-process alt

In this episode of Takani 93, host Shapoor Bakhtyar takes a look at the election process with the following the guests:

• Atiqullah Amarkhil, military analyst
• Jawid Kohistani, political analyst
• Abdul Jabar Qahraman, MP

To watch the program, click here:

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 05:09:17 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15671-takani-the-election-process
FARAKHABAR: 21 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15670-farakhabar-21-july-2014 alt

Head of the Herat Education Department, Basir Ahmad Tahiri, announced that all school doors have been closed for girls in Shindand district of Herat province, depriving nearly 40,000 girls from education because of Taliban threats.

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}nGbQkzIIEl4{/youtube}

It comes after the Taliban shoot on girls and warned to don't go to schools. In the past a month the violence increased in Shindand.

Herat Governor Syed Fazullah Wahidi says the main factor behind the growing insecurity of the province is that security personnel lack good coordination between the security organs at a provincial and national level.

In the past days, several police officials have been dismissed after the violence increased in the province.

But how have the Taliban threats closed all the school doors in Shindand?

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siawish discusses topic with the following guests:

• Mohammad Asif Nang, Deputy Education Minister for Technical Education
• Munawar Shah Bahaderi, MP

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 04:50:46 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15670-farakhabar-21-july-2014
Suicide Attack Kills Four Foreign Security Guards in Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15669-suicide-attack-kills-four-foreign-security-guards-in-kabul alt

A Taliban suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden motorcycle inside an anti-narcotics camp in a town called Qasaba in Kabul killing four foreign security guards and injuring six Afghan guards on Tuesday morning.

The nationalities of the fatalities were three Nepalese, one of which was a female and one Peruvian male.

According to Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior (MoI), the suicide attacker entered the camp while riding on a motorcycle.

"When he entered he detonated his explosives in front of the third gate of the camp where foreign contractors and the department of counter narcotics exist," he explained. "The attack resulted in the deaths of three Nepalese security guards and one Peruvian and injuring six other Afghan guards."

On condition of anonymity a security official said that the suicide bomber was an Afghan security guard working alongside foreign contractors.

"The suicide bomber was an Afghan security guard working alongside foreigners at the anti-narcotics office for many years," said the security official.

This was the second attack in five days in the township of Qasaba in Kabul.

In last few weeks, security situations have worsened in the capital city. Suicide attacks, plantation of magnetic bombs and rocket attacks have overshadowed the calm city. Citizens of Kabul ask the intelligence services and security forces be on high alert and provide an explanation as to how these suicide bombers manage to enter the capital of the country.

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Tue, 22 Jul 2014 03:38:13 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15669-suicide-attack-kills-four-foreign-security-guards-in-kabul
TOLOnews 6 pm News 21 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15668-tolonews-6-pm-news-21-july-2014 alt

The teams of the two presidential hopefuls on Monday took time to assure the public that the crisis-avoiding agreements made last week with help from the United Nations and U.S. would never be abandoned.

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah each agreed to a comprehensive vote audit as well as the formation of a "national unity government" once the election is over. The accord between the two men came after weeks of rising tensions between their supporters over alleged fraud in the election. Although there have been some delays in the auditing process and differences of interpretation over what exactly a "national unity government" means, the candidates have emphasized their resolve to cooperate.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:33:03 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15668-tolonews-6-pm-news-21-july-2014
Election Teams Assure Strength of Agreement Between Candidates http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15667-election-teams-assure-strength-of-agreement-between-candidates alt

The teams of the two presidential hopefuls on Monday took time to assure the public that the crisis-avoiding agreements made last week with help from the United Nations and U.S. would never be abandoned.

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah each agreed to a comprehensive vote audit as well as the formation of a "national unity government" once the election is over. The accord between the two men came after weeks of rising tensions between their supporters over alleged fraud in the election. Although there have been some delays in the auditing process and differences of interpretation over what exactly a "national unity government" means, the candidates have emphasized their resolve to cooperate.

Ashraf Ghani's Deputy Spokesman Tahir Zuhair said disagreements over the vote auditing would never impact the political agreements between the candidates.

"The agreement that was made between the candidates through the mediation of the U.S. Secretary of State and in the presence of the UN envoy is irreversible and it is 100 percent sure," Zuhair said. "The 100 percent vote auditing process has started and the formation of the national unity government will happen after the vote auditing, agreement has been made over these two points."

Abdullah's camp has indicated the agreement is seen by them as a necessary strategic one, with its support of the international community. They have asserted that the structure of the next government will be formed on the basis of the same agreement.

"Our perspective on the agreement is a strategic and long term perspective, however, the priority is the outcomes of the elections and we don't want the process to lose integrity," Abdullah spokesman Syed Fazil Aqa Sancharaki said. "Whatever the election results may be, the political agreement is in place and the political structure would be shaped on the basis of this agreement, disagreements and misinterpretations will not affect the future of the agreements."

Election monitoring groups have acknowledged some differences of opinion over the cooperation between the candidates and the next steps in the process, but also maintained that such problems are to be expected and that there are enough guarantees in place to ensure the agreement is honored.

"Coming out of the crisis was very important for both candidates and the political agreement was quite significant in tackling and seeking settlement to the crisis," said Nadir Naderi, the head of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan. "Both teams want to present a responsible leader, for these reasons, there are guarantees that could ensure implementation of the agreements."

Both teams have confirmed that negotiations over the implementation of the agreements have been finalized. But details of their accord have yet to be disclosed. If the agreement is indeed finalized, the choice not to make its contents public raises questions.

However, Abdullah's team has said that on the basis of the agreement with Ashraf Ghani, a Loya Jirga will be organized to change the presidential system into a parliamentary system at some point down the line, which will allow for great power-sharing in the next government.

A parliamentary system of government comprises a President and a Prime Minister, rather than just a President as is the case now.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:09:34 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15667-election-teams-assure-strength-of-agreement-between-candidates
Number 39 Hurts Traffic Police Revenues http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/15666-number-39-hurts-traffic-police-revenues alt

Afghan car owners avoid purchasing cars with the number 39 on the license plate because of the rumor and myth attached to it, stemming from misinformation spread about criminal activity. According to officials from the General Directorate of Traffic this week, Afghans' misguided avoidance of the number has led revenues of the traffic police to drop by a whopping 50 percent.

The Traffic Directorate said that car owners and buyers have been unduly influenced by organized crime groups and refuse to accept license plates with the number 39 on them. The number is widely thought to be associated with prostitution and other illegal activities that people would be ashamed of being connected to.

However, officials have discouraged people from taking the rumors about the number seriously. "We cannot delete number plates that include 39, we are asking people to forget these meaningless statements and accept the numbers," Traffic Directorate Chief Assadullah said. "None of the world's countries have a traffic system like Afghanistan."

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) has also said that the number 39 will not be cut from the licensing system and it will be distributed to car owners according to the laws.

"There are mafias who benefit from such numbers; they purchase cars at low rates, then sell with high rate," MoI spokesman Sediq Sediqi said. "These mafias groups have confused the minds of the government and the people. We are fighting against such groups and will distribute these number plates."

Despite the prevalence of stigma against the number, some Kabul residents seem to agree with officials that avoidance of it is baseless.

"This is a false idea," a Kabul resident named Ajmal told TOLOnews. "I do not know who spreads such false rumors."

Reportedly, since car owners have begun refusing number plates with 39, the revenue of the government has decreased by about 1 billion Afghani.

The process of distributing number plates has been stopped by the General Directorate of Traffic because the directorate has 42 plates with 39 figures.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:07:10 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/15666-number-39-hurts-traffic-police-revenues
600 Boxes Audited in Five Days http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15665-600-boxes-audited-in-five-days alt

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced prior to the start of auditing that the commission was determined to investigate 1,000 ballot boxes a day, but in the past five days of inspection a total of 600 boxes have been audited.

The IEC has failed to fulfill their systematic plan of auditing 1,000 boxes a day; they are behind by 4,400.

The monitors for the presidential candidates have expressed their concerns over the slow and inefficient process stating that at this rate it will take months for investigations to be over.

A member of Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's monitoring team, Mohammad Gulab Mangal, said that the process must be faster by "enhancing the team to speed up the process, otherwise the audit will take several months."

Sharing similar concerns to the speed of the process, a member of Abdullah Abdullah's observation team, Amirullah Aman, said that the "IEC has invited its provincial staff who are not familiar with the auditing process, which have slowed down the process."

On the opposite spectrum of reasons behind the time-consuming procedure, official from the IEC say the candidates' monitoring teams are not trained nor understand the details and protocol of the audits.

"A number of the candidates' observers do not understand the technicalities of the audits and neither are they trained this is what is causing the snail-like auditing," IEC Spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said.

"Besides this, there is not enough international observers in Kabul, so if we have to enhance our team."

Noor added that in the past five days of audits there have been suspicious boxes, mostly from Kabul, that will be closely investigated to decide the fate of the ballots in those boxes.

A member of Abdullah's team asserted that only the United Nation (UN) is allowed and responsible to invalidate ballots, not the IEC.

Before the start of the audit process, the election commission had announced that they will form 100 groups that will inspect a total of 1,000 boxes a day. In retrospect, only 600 ballot boxes have been audited in the past five days.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:47:13 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15665-600-boxes-audited-in-five-days
Insecurities in Shindand Result in Closing of Girls Schools http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15664-insecurities-in-shindand-result-in-closing-of-girls-schools alt

Head of the Herat Education Department, Basir Ahmad Tahiri, announced that all school doors have been closed for girls in Shindand district of Herat province, depriving nearly 40,000 girls from education because of Taliban threats.

In the past 13 years, schools catered for girls were never closed. The education sector in Herat developed successfully over the years.

Tahiri called on the provincial government to ensure the security of the girls and the schools.

"We have received pamphlets addressed to our school in which the Taliban have asked the girls not to go schools or they would burn our schools and commit suicide attacks," Tahiri explained.

Herat Governor Syed Fazullah Wahidi says the main factor behind the growing insecurity of the province is that security personnel lack good coordination between the security organs at a provincial and national level.

Herat Police Chief Gen. Samiullah Qatra says that the activities of the intelligence services of neighboring countries and the presence of insurgents have worsened the security in the area. Qatra added that some extra police units have been dispatched to the district to maintain law and order.

"Establishment of security belts and reinforcement of check-points have brought the district's security situation under control," Qatra said.

This is while a number of Herat MPs have raised apprehensions over the government's response to security concerns in Shindand.

"Regrettably, the government is not aware of the situations in the district and has showed an apathetical approach," MP Munawar Shah Bahaduri said. "The district could collapse."

Head of the Parliamentary Commission for Internal Security, Mir Dad Khan Nejrabi, has also raised concerns over the government's method to security.

"The government and the international forces need to focus on the issues regarding nighttime military operations, the release of prisoners and civilian causalities," Nejrabi said.

It is the first time since the fall of the Taliban that serious threats are posed to girls' education in the province of Herat.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:51:48 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15664-insecurities-in-shindand-result-in-closing-of-girls-schools
Observers Distressed About Auditing Procedures http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15663-observers-distressed-about-auditing-procedures alt

The election observer institutions on Monday raised concerns over brawls between the candidates about the finalization of the vote auditing checklist, which defines the process that will certify the method of invalidating ballots.

The monitoring bodies asserted that the auditing method could be pushed to a stalemate if candidates do not agree on the inspection procedures soon.

"If there are no legal frameworks and procedures, there is a possibility that the process will face challenges," head of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), Mohammad Naeem Ayoubzada, said.

Furthermore, Chairman of Afghanistan Election Watch, Jandad Spinghar, asserted that it is important for the candidates to rely on international standards.

"Both sides have agreed on a set of standards. There are ways to implement these principles on the basis of global standards," Spinghar said. "Neither candidate should refuse to execute the said standards."

It is not yet clear which campaign team has raised concerns over the auditing process. But reports indicate that negotiations are underway between presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah and opponent Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's camps regarding Abdullah's recommendations to the United Nations (UN).

"I think that our opponent has not approved the recommendations yet. The issue is between the UN and Ghani-Ahmadzai's camp," said Fazel Ahmad Manavi, who is in charge of the technical negotiations in Abdullah's camp. "The recommendations should be approved soon as our demands are completely in line with international standards."

Ghani-Ahmadzai's team has stated that negotiations to resolve the issue are underway with all the involved parties.

"Negotiations are not just between the two teams but also with the UN and other involved institutions," Ghani-Ahmadzai's camp spokesman Tahir Zuhair said. "The procedures must be acceptable to all parties."

Meanwhile, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the two camps will reach an agreement soon.

"The disagreements are not serious and will not undermine the agreements," UNAMA Spokeswoman Neelab Mubarez said. "The candidates have reached a consensus; we ask them to keep up the same spirit and put an end to the prolonged process."

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) has also expressed optimism about resolving the recent disagreements.

"We are optimistic about the outcomes of the talks," IEC Spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said. "We have made many good pacts thus far and we hope that the procedure is finalized soon."

The candidates have yet to reach an agreement and conclude the specific technicalities in the audit process. Finalization of the procedure is considered a crucial step in pushing the election process forward.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:48:26 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15663-observers-distressed-about-auditing-procedures
Dobbins Meets Karzai in Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15662-dobbins-meets-karzai-in-kabul alt

The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, James F. Dobbins has arrived in Kabul on Sunday and met President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace, according to a statement released by the Presidential Palace.

The statement read that Mr. Dobbins has talked in regards to the audit process with both presidential candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai.

However, the statement did not provide more details about Karzai and Dobbins meeting.

This comes as, on Sunday the vote auditing process for the June 14 presidential runoff election halted due to disputes between Abdullah and Ghani-Ahmadzai teams, but resumed after 23 hours.

Officials of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the audit was expected to continue until 6 p.m., but was halted at 3 p.m. on Saturday when the two candidates' representatives disagreed about the status of non-standard signs like signatures on ballot papers.

Observers have weighed into the dispute between the candidates, arguing the signatures are insufficient in judging the validity of a vote.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has taken the responsibility of transporting ballot boxes from all the provinces to Kabul.

ISAF has transferred 1,515 boxes from Heart to Kabul on Saturday. The movement of ballot boxes from the provinces of Kandahar and Helmand are underway.

Millions of Afghans risked their lives and voted in the presidential runoff elections determined to decide the future of their country democratically. For the next five years the future of Afghanistan is weighed on the outcome of the ballots.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 08:37:29 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15662-dobbins-meets-karzai-in-kabul
Suicide Car Bomber Targets Afghan Police in Helmand http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15661-suicide-car-bomber-targets-afghan-police-in-helmand alt

A suicide car bomber targeted Afghan police vehicles in southern Helmand province on Monday afternoon killing two including a policeman, local officials said.

Fifteen other including eight policemen were injured in the attack.

The attack took place about 12 p.m. local time after a suicide bomber detonated his explosive near a police vehicle, said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for provincial governor.

The victims have been taken to a nearby hospital, he said.

The officials of the hospital have confirmed and said 21 victims have been taken to the hospital.

Investigation is underway.

No group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 08:13:58 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15661-suicide-car-bomber-targets-afghan-police-in-helmand
ELECTION 2014: Audit Resumes After 23-Hour Halt http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15660-election-2014-audit-resumes-after-23-hour-halt alt

The vote auditing process for this year's runoff election came to a grinding halt due to disputes between the two candidate teams, but resumed after 23 hours on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

To watch the whole program, click here:

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In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Muslim Shirzad discusses the topic with the following the guests:

• Amin Habibi, International Relations Analyst
• Sardar Mohammad Rahimi, lecturer at the Kabul University
• Ghafoor Lewal, Director of Afghanistan's Regional Studies Centre
• Faizullah Zaki, member of Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's team

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 07:48:50 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15660-election-2014-audit-resumes-after-23-hour-halt
FARAKHABAR: 20 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15659-farakhabar-20-july-2014 alt

The vote auditing process for this year's runoff election came to a grinding halt due to disputes between the two candidate teams, but resumed after 23 hours on Sunday at 3 p.m.

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}xTIKPoMHXVY{/youtube}

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the audit was expected to continue until 6 p.m., but that it was halted at 3 p.m on Saturday when the two candidates' representatives disagreed about the status of non-standard signs like signatures on ballot papers.

"Based on the decisions of the commission, the audit was expected to continue until 6 p.m. yesterday, but the process halted because of some disputes between the candidates' teams," IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said on Sunday.

Observers have weighed into the dispute between the candidates, arguing the signatures are insufficient in judging the validity of a vote.

But why was the auditing process halted for more than 23 hours?

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siawish discusses topic with the following guests:

• Waqif Hakimi, member of Abdullah Abdullah's team
• Asadullah Sadati, member of Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's team

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 05:50:04 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15659-farakhabar-20-july-2014
20 Insurgents Killed in ANSF Operations http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15658-20-insurgents-killed-in-ansf-operations alt

At least 20 Taliban militants were killed in the past 24 hours during a nationwide operation led by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said in a statement on Monday.

One insurgent injured and six other were arrested.

"Within the past 24 hours, the Afghan army, police and intelligence agency carried out several operations in Uruzgan, Herat, Helmand, Faryab, Baghlan, Ghazni, Kandahar and Wardak provinces to rid them of insurgents," the statement read.

According to the statement, ANSF did not only seize enemy weapons, but also defused five mines in southern Kandahar and Paktia provinces.

"The mines were recently placed by the insurgents in the areas for terrorism act," the statement said.

The statement did not provide details about the number of ANSF casualties.

The Taliban have not yet commented about the operations.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 05:23:16 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15658-20-insurgents-killed-in-ansf-operations
Bloody Sunday as 100 Gazans, 13 Israeli Soldiers Killed http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15657-bloody-sunday-as-100-gazans-13-israeli-soldiers-killed alt

At least 100 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed on Sunday with Hamas claiming it had captured another, as Israel ramped up a major military offensive in Gaza.

The United Nations Security Council was set to hold an emergency meeting on the Gaza situation at 0130 GMT Monday, following a call by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, as regional leaders met in Doha for urgent ceasefire talks.

The Palestinian death toll soared to 438 in the bloodiest single day in Gaza in five years, with a spokesman for the enclave's emergency services saying more than a third of the victims were women and children.

The Israeli army said 13 soldiers had been killed inside Gaza on the third day of a major ground operation, raising to 18 the number of soldiers killed since the ground operation began late on Thursday.

It was the largest number of Israeli soldiers killed in combat since the 2006 Lebanon war.

Late Sunday, the armed wing of Hamas claimed it had kidnapped an Israeli soldier, prompting celebrations in the streets of Gaza City and West Bank cities.

"The Israeli soldier Shaul Aaron is in the hands of the Qassam Brigades," a spokesman using the nom-de-guerre Abu Obeida said in a televised address.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli military said they were investigating the claim.

More than half of Sunday's Palestinian victims were killed in a blistering hours-long Israeli assault on Shejaiya, near Gaza City, which began before dawn and claimed 62 Palestinian lives, with another 250 wounded.

With ambulances unable to reach the area, the International Committee of the Red Cross arranged a brief ceasefire that allowed paramedics to evacuate some of the dead and wounded before hostilities resumed.

- Ban in peace push –

As the violence raged, Abbas arrived in Qatar to discuss a ceasefire with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, and UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived later to push truce efforts.

"I am calling for an urgent session tonight of the UN Security Council," Abbas said in a speech broadcast on Palestinian TV.

"What the occupation forces did today in Shejaiya is a crime against humanity," he said. "Those who committed it will not go unpunished."

Ban also condemned the "atrocious action" in Shejaiya and urged Israel to "exercise maximum restraint".

"Too many innocent people are dying...(and) living in constant fear," he told a news conference in Doha.

So far, truce efforts have been rejected by Hamas which has pressed on with its own attacks, undaunted by the Israeli bombardment by land, sea and air.

Following a night of terror in Shejaiya, thousands fled for their lives at first light after heavy shelling, an AFP correspondent reported.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA has opened 61 of its schools to shelter more than 81,000 people who have fled their homes.

- Netanyahu blames Hamas –

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed the civilian casualties on Hamas using innocents "as human shields."

He insisted on Sunday that the military campaign had strong international backing.

"We are carrying out a complex, deep, intensive activity inside the Gaza Strip and there is world support for this... very strong support," he said before a security cabinet meeting.

Although Israel said earlier Sunday it was expanding its ground operation to destroy the network of tunnels used by militants to stage cross-border attacks and fire rockets, Netanyahu said troops could end their mission "fairly quickly".

His Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon also suggested it could end within days.

"My assessment is that in another two or three days, the lion's share of the tunnels, from our perspective, will be destroyed," Yaalon said.

But he demanded international action to "demilitarise Gaza", the tiny coastal enclave which is home to 1.7 million Palestinians and is one of the most densely-populated areas on the planet.

Palestinian militants have over the past 12 days fired 1,414 mortars and rockets that hit Israel, with the Iron Dome air defence system intercepting another 377, the army said.

Israel's right to self-defence in the face of rocket fire from Gaza has won repeated US support, but President Barack Obama has expressed concern over the loss of life in a call to Netanyahu.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who is to travel to Cairo to seek an end to the fighting, meanwhile, blamed Hamas for perpetuating the conflict by "stubbornly" refusing all ceasefire efforts.

By its behaviour, Hamas had "invited further actions" by Israel, he said, in remarks which drew an angry response from Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who accused Israel of killing Palestinians "mercilessly".

Thousands participated in rallies in France, Vienna, Stockholm and Amsterdam to oppose Israel's offensive, with a demonstration in the northern Paris suburb of Sarcelles descending into chaos as protesters set fire to bins and looted shops.

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Mon, 21 Jul 2014 05:10:21 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15657-bloody-sunday-as-100-gazans-13-israeli-soldiers-killed
TOLOnews 6 pm News 20 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15656-tolonews-6-pm-news-20-july-2014 alt

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has taken the responsibility of transporting ballot boxes from all the provinces of Afghanistan to Kabul.

Thus far, ISAF has transferred 1,515 boxes from Heart to Kabul on Saturday. The movement of ballot boxes from the provinces of Kandahar and Helmand are underway.

{youtube}6PSU7X0_-OQ{/youtube}

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 15:16:50 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15656-tolonews-6-pm-news-20-july-2014
Audit Resumes After 23-Hour Halt http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15655-audit-resumes-after-23-hour-halt alt

The vote auditing process for this year's runoff election came to a grinding halt due to disputes between the two candidate teams, but resumed after 23 hours on Sunday at 3:00pm.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the audit was expected to continue until 6:00pm, but that it was halted at 3:00pm on Saturday when the two candidates' representatives disagreed about the status of non-standard signs like signatures on ballot papers.

"Based on the decisions of the commission, the audit was expected to continue until 6:00 pm yesterday, but the process halted because of some disputes between the candidates' teams," IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said on Sunday.

Observers have weighed into the dispute between the candidates, arguing the signatures are insufficient in judging the validity of a vote.

"There was a dispute as to wether the signature violated the secrecy of the ballot and it was agreed by both of the candidates organizations that the IEC's original judgment was the correct one, if there is a signature on the ballots, the ballots will not be counted as part of this process and I think it was the correct conclusion to be reached," Democracy International chief Glenn Cowan told TOLOnews.

It is said that the process resumed after around six hours of negotiations between the candidates and the United Nations (UN).

"We had a meeting with Dr. Abdullah's team and the problem is now solved," said Daoud Sultanzoy, a member of Ghani's team.

"The disagreement was about signatures on the ballots, but it was decided that ballot papers with signatures are invalid," Abdullah's team member Amrullah Aman said.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 14:18:45 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15655-audit-resumes-after-23-hour-halt
Presidential Campaigns Criticize Slow Audit Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15654-presidential-campaigns-criticize-slow-audit-process alt

Slow work by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in its vote auditing process has raised concerns of both campaign teams. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah have criticized commission and said they hope the process speeds up in the coming days.

"We hope that in the upcoming days, the IEC will be able to audit 1,000 boxes as they had said," Abdullah's technical team leader Fazel Ahmad Manawi said.

"During the past two to three days, the process was slower, which is not too concerning, but it would be good if the process is expedited," said Daud Sultanzoy, Ghani's technical team head.

In addition its own delays, however, the IEC has still not received an audit methodology approved by both of the candidates. Mr. Manawi has said that if the methodology is not approved, the entire audit will be meaningless.

"The agreement on cancellation of votes should have been finalized once and then the audit should have started, but based on pressure from the UN, the audit started, promising the bill would be confirmed. If this document is not finalized, what is done so far will be useless," warned Manawi.

Meanwhile, Sultanzoy tried to explain why the methodology bill is taking so long to pass, indicating there remain some issues with it from the perspective of the Ghani camp.

"The approval of the bill took longer because the UN added a few articles to ensure transparency and a few demands of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, which would result in the invalidation of people's votes, which we should not do," Sultanzoy said. "I would say that there are still two more issues that needs to be agreed on, which will be resolved soon."

The IEC has remained steadfast in maintaining that the auditing methodology will only be approved once both candidates have agreed on it. The commission has acknowledged that the auditing process continues to proceed without the approved methodology, and has faced delays on account of observers.

"The process has moved slowly, and any process that starts in the IEC, starts slow, so that all the observers are able to follow," IEC spokesman Noor Muhammad Noor said.

The audit results will feed directly into the final result that the IEC will announce, which will lead to the next president taking office. However, before then, the commission will have to re-examine over eight million votes, all while under the microscope.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 14:12:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15654-presidential-campaigns-criticize-slow-audit-process
Abdullah Abdullah Visits Paktika While Ceremony Held in Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15653-abdullah-abdullah-visits-paktika-while-ceremony-held-in-kabul alt

A ceremony was held at the Eidgah mosque in Kabul on Sunday to commemorate the lives lost during the recent Paktika province attack. A number of citizens and government officials participated in the ceremony, however, presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah was away visiting the province itself.

Participants of the ceremony stressed the importance of supporting the wounded and families of victims, and they drew connections between the attacks and foreign intelligence services in the region.

The Paktika attack has prompted Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, President Hamid Karzai and now Abdullah Abdullah to travel to the province.

On Sunday, while visiting Urgoon, Abdullah said that the current and future government has the chief responsibility of protecting people's lives.

"We saw people who had lost four of their kids in the attack," Abdullah said. "We ask for peace from Allah, we are proud of our security forces who have always worked for bringing peace for the people, but despite the efforts of the security forces, crimes like this take place, resulting in the mourning of all Afghans."

During his trip, Abdullah met with a number of residents of Paktika province and families of victims. Abdullah emphasized on the serious need for addressing the economic and social conditions of people in cities and villages throughout the province.

According to Abdullah's team, he set aside five million Afghanis to help with the families of victims, and said helping the victims is the duty of the government, business community and citizens of Afghanistan.

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was the first to visit Urgoon district, and did so just two days after the incident. Ghani also promised aid to the families of the victims. Three days after the incident, President Karzai visited Paktika province and met with the families.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 14:06:21 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15653-abdullah-abdullah-visits-paktika-while-ceremony-held-in-kabul
ISAF Transports Ballot Boxes to Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15652-isaf-transports-ballot-boxes-to-kabul alt

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has taken the responsibility of transporting ballot boxes from all the provinces of Afghanistan to Kabul.

Thus far, ISAF has transferred 1,515 boxes from Heart to Kabul on Saturday. The movement of ballot boxes from the provinces of Kandahar and Helmand are underway.

"The transfer of the ballot boxes was very transparent, we were welcomed as guests," said Haji Muhammad Qasem, an observer for Abdullah Abdullah's camp. "We are content with the transfer and process of the boxes conducted by the ISAF forces."

Campaign observer from Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's camp says that the transfer has been conducted well, but stresses that some boxes have been tampered with during the transfer.

"So far the transfer process is going well, but some of the seals were broken, which I think could have been done while transporting," Esmatullah Daneshyar, observer for Ghani-Ahmadzai's tea, said.

The duration of the auditing process is still unknown, but national and international officials have estimated that the inspection could take up to three weeks, if not longer.

Millions of Afghans risked their lives and voted in the presidential runoff elections determined to decide the future of their country democratically. For the next five years the future of Afghanistan is weighed on the outcome of the ballots.

In addition to being in charge of the transfer of ballot boxes, ISAF is also responsible for maintaining the security of the boxes in Kabul.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 13:58:15 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15652-isaf-transports-ballot-boxes-to-kabul
ELECTION 2014: The Complaints of the Provincial Council Candidates http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15651-election-2014-the-complaints-of-the-provincial-council-candidates alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Omid Farooq discusses the complaints of provincial council candidates regarding the election process with the following the guests:

• Noor Mohammad Noor, the spokesman for the Independent Election Commission (IEC)
• Najibullah Alokozai, provincial council candidate
• Shirzad Allahdad, provincial council candidate
• Mohammad Naeem Asghari, Director of the Free and Fair Elections Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA)

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}Vu272Gds91k{/youtube}

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 08:35:56 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15651-election-2014-the-complaints-of-the-provincial-council-candidates
TAKANI: Ghani and Abdullah’s Meeting http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15650-takani-ghani-and-abdullahs-meeting alt

In this episode of Takani 93, host Navida Khushbu discusses Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah, presidential candidates meeting with the following guests:

• Srir Ahmad Barmak, a Commissioner of Independent Election Commission
• Ahmad Shah Afghanzai, a member of Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's team
• Mohammad Natiqi, a member of Abdullah Abdullah's team
• Fahim Naeemi, the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) spokesman

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}ylXPU8fuc88{/youtube}

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 08:29:29 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15650-takani-ghani-and-abdullahs-meeting
FARAKHABAR: 19 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15649-farakhabar-19-july-2014 alt

President Karzai's First Vice President, Muhammad Younus Qanooni, has strongly criticized the government's policy toward the Taliban, stating that the released Taliban commanders have returned to insurgency and contributed to rising insecurities in the country.

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}XCxabbLpFxM{/youtube}

"I am against the release of those who kill the people of Afghanistan," Qanooni asserted. "We knew that when they [the Taliban] are released from prison, they would return to the battle fields and commit more crimes."

Qanooni's statements came as he visited the victims of a heavy explosion on Urgoon which had resulted in the death and injury of about 200 civilians on Tuesday.

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siawish discusses President Karzai's decision to release Taliban commanders with the following guests:

Ahmad Saeedi, political analyst

Faizullah Jalal, lecturer at the Kabul University

 

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 08:18:49 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15649-farakhabar-19-july-2014
Optimism Over the Audit Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15648-optimism-over-the-audit-process alt

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) officials on Saturday said that the ballot audit process is proceeding well, emphasizing that international observers are committed to correctly monitoring the process.

According to UNAMA, the auditing process has once again instilled global trust in the country's elections.

"We are optimistic about the process monitored by international observers and under the supervision of UNAMA. We have over 100 international observers--a lot more than we had expected," UNAMA Spokeswoman Nilab Mobarez said. "Auditing all the votes by international observers and candidates' observers has contributed to creating global trust in the Afghan elections.

In the meantime, a number of domestic monitoring groups have also stressed that the ballot audit will ensure transparency and retrieve people's trust in the election process.

"Auditing the run-off is a good option for building trust; it will guarantee transparency," Chairman of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), Mohammad Naeem Ayoubzada, said. "There were some problems in the beginning of the process but the presence of domestic, international and candidate observers show that the process will end successfully."

The Fair and Free Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) has also expressed the same conclusions as TEFA.

"Vote audit and other agreements between the candidates ensure election transparency," FEFA Spokesman Faheem Naeemi said.

The audit process of over 8 million votes from the presidential run-off election has entered its third day. Rumors indicate that the process will likely take more times than anticipated.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 06:51:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15648-optimism-over-the-audit-process
MPs Give Vote of No Confidence to ICOIC Members http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15647-mps-give-vote-of-no-confidence-to-icoic-members alt

Three members of the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of Constitution (ICOIC), including the office's top official, received votes of "No Confidence" from Parliament on Saturday, officially ending their terms at the Commission.

MPs accused the officials of failing to meet their responsibilities. In response, members of the commission blamed that the lack of a budget and the interference of foreign countries for their unsatisfactory performance.

The First Vice President of Hamid Karzai, Yunus Qanuni, brought the commission members to Parliament on Saturday.

Most of the questions posed to the commission officials were regarding violations of the constitution by government officials, but others got a bit more personal.

"A question that has been on my mind is that you, Gul Rahman Qazi and Ms. Huquq Mal, you both are over 88 or 85, do you have the strength to continue your duty?" asked Kunduz MP Amanullah Paiman.

"The President has violated the law many times, right in front of the the ICOIC," Kabul MP Hafeez Mansoor said. "President Karzai gives an order to end the search of homes, releases Taliban members who are dangerous, gives the order for the commandos' arrest who fought the Taliban." 

The discussions also touched on the legality and illegality of increasing the facilities and privileges afforded to MPs, a hot-button issue in recent weeks as a related piece of legislation has gone in front of Parliament.

"What has become controversial in the past few days is the salary law for the MPs," Kabul MP Baktash Seyawash said. "In your opinion, is this law legal, considering what is going on in Afghanistan?"

"Those who have received the people's vote, but were not present in sessions during voting, instead going out during these Ramadan days to spend time with beautiful girls, is that legal or no?"asked Daikundi MP Sadeqi Zada Neeli in response to Seyawash.

The ICOIC officials discussed the challenges they face in implementing the Constitution with the MPs.

"The lack of sufficient resources and a budget, the lack of professional and technical employees, and the interference of foreign countries in the work of the Commission and other major problems," listed off Gul Rahman Qazi, the head of the ICOIC.

However, the vote in the House was one of "No Confidence", meaning Qazi and the two other members of the commission will not return to their posts for the next four years. Now, based on the law, new members must be introduced to Parliament for approval.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 06:12:48 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15647-mps-give-vote-of-no-confidence-to-icoic-members
MoD: Foreign Intelligence Trying to Stop Afghan Air Force Progress http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15646-mod-foreign-intelligence-trying-to-stop-afghan-air-force-progress alt

Discussing a string of suicide and rocket attacks on Afghan Air Force bases in recent months, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense claimed on Saturday that foreign intelligence services were behind the attempts, and want to keep the airborne wing of the Afghan military from developing further.

A number of analysts were more direct, accusing Pakistani intelligence, ISI, outright of being behind the attacks.

Over the past few months, Afghan Air Force facilities and personnel have have come under attack from two suicide bombings and three rocket attacks as well as an assault by a heavily armed group of militants.

The suicide bombers have targeted the Afghan Air Force facilities in the Kart-e-Now and Kart-e Sakhi areas of Kabul.

During these attacks, in addition to civilian deaths, 11 Air Force members were killed and nine others wounded. On one occasion a helicopter was destroyed.

"Afghanistan is in a proxy war, the Air Force of countries are very threatened, meaning that foreign intelligence circles are working to endanger the air force in the long run," Mod spokesman Zahir Azimi said.

The training and education process for Afghan Air Force pilots is time consuming and expensive, and officials fear continued attacks could set the whole program back.

"If a rocket hits a location in air force area, any piece that hits anywhere will result in heavy losses and if a pilot is killed, it will take time and money to train someone else as a pilot," Azimi said. "If it was any other area, it would be possible, but only a pilot can do a pilots job."

In addition to the base at Shindand, Afghan pilots are being trained in the United States, Dubai, Czech Republic and Russia. Every pilot is trained for three years at a cost of around two million dollars.

Analysts have suggested it makes sense that the Air Force would be coming under increased pressure, given the potential threat it poses to enemies of the Afghan government.

"Afghanistan's air force is forming, these forces can fight alongside the ground forces and army, which can really put pressure on the enemy," intelligence analyst Jawed Kohistani told TOLOnews.

Officials hope to see the Afghan Air Force become fully functional and self-sustaining by the end of 2016, especially in areas of transportation, search and intelligence and ground support. But if the attacks continue, it will be hard to meet the deadline.

"All the intelligence agencies and institutions are the given task of identifying and investigating these incidents," Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqi said.

Commanders from the Air Force and National Directorate of Security declined to comment on the attacks.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 04:54:52 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15646-mod-foreign-intelligence-trying-to-stop-afghan-air-force-progress
IEC to Accelerate Audit Process in Coming Days http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15645-iec-to-accelerate-audit-process-in-coming-days alt

Independent Election Commission (IEC) spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said on Saturday that the commission would seek to accelerate the auditing process for votes cast in the runoff election over the course of the coming days.

According to the working plan of the commission, at least 1,000 ballot boxes should be audited per day. However, the commission has failed to inspect more than 235 boxes in the past two days.

"We will speed up the process," Noor told reporters on Saturday. "80 groups worked on Saturday in two shifts, 40 groups in the morning shift and 40 in the afternoon. And I can say that 100 groups will work tomorrow in two shifts."

The ballot boxes of Balkh, Maidan Wardak, Ghazni provinces have reportedly been fully transferred to the IEC's central office in Kabul, but await inspections.

The camps of the both the presidential candidates expressed continued support for the auditing process, but both teams expressed some concerns about the procedures being used.

"The only problem is the absence of a standard operating procedure right now," Abdullah Abdullah team member Fazl Ahmad Manawee said. "Both sides agreed to a procedure but the standard operating procedure is not yet verified, we hope it will be very soon."

"The audit process is proceeding very well, but there are some problems with the IEC's employees, like disagreements about the ticks on the ballot papers," Wakman Hashimi, a member of Ashraf Ghani's team said.

But election monitors like Democracy International's Gregory Minjack seemed optimistic about the audit.

"It seems like it is very true and deliberate and most importantly it looks like the candidate groups agree with it," Minjack told TOLOnews.

So far, 870 domestic and international observers have been registered by election commission to oversee the auditing process, which was the outcome of negotiations between the two candidates, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Nations.

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Sun, 20 Jul 2014 04:26:39 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15645-iec-to-accelerate-audit-process-in-coming-days
TOLOnews 6 pm News 18 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15644-tolonews-6-pm-news-18-july-2014 altTop news in this bulletin

Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah and opponent Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai continue to discuss ballot audits and other agreements made during the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Kabul. One of the main topics of discussion between the candidates is the role of the second candidate in the country's future government.

To watch the bulletin, click here:

{youtube}Gick5K3h2B4{/youtube}

 President Karzai's First Vice President, Muhammad Younus Qanooni, strongly criticizes the government's policy toward the Taliban, stating that the released Taliban commanders have returned to insurgency and contributed to rising insecurities in the country.

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 15:17:41 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15644-tolonews-6-pm-news-18-july-2014
Candidates Discuss "National Unity Government" http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15643-candidates-discuss-qnational-unity-governmentq alt

Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah and opponent Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai continue to discuss ballot audits and other agreements made during the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Kabul. One of the main topics of discussion between the candidates is the role of the second candidate in the country's future government.

"The candidates talked in regards to important issues such as their political frameworks as well as the start of the ballot audit process, the audit results, the review and the announcement," Abdullah's Campaign Spokesman, Said Fazel Agha Sancharaki, said. "Representatives of both teams will oversee the Independent Election Commission (IEC) secretariat."

The two presidential teams have agreed that the losing candidate will perform an executive position in the future government and become the prime minister after the country shifts to a parliamentarian system in two years.

Electoral analysts believe that unifying the two teams will make for an accountable government, calling it the only way to overcome the current crisis in the country.

"Both candidates and both teams need to be next to each other to form a fair and legitimate government. The society is tired of the high levels of corruption," electoral analyst Muhammad Daud Shujazada said. "A fair and legitimate government is the precondition in attracting foreign aid to Afghanistan."

The most important agreement between the two candidates, the announcement of the national unity government--strengthening national unity by political power-sharing-- has been welcomed by many.

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:18:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15643-candidates-discuss-qnational-unity-governmentq
Qanooni Criticizes Taliban Release http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15642-qanooni-criticizes-taliban-release alt

President Karzai's First Vice President, Muhammad Younus Qanooni, strongly criticizes the government's policy toward the Taliban, stating that the released Taliban commanders have returned to insurgency and contributed to rising insecurities in the country.

"I am against the release of those who kill the people of Afghanistan," Qanooni stated. "We knew that when they are released from prison, they would return to the battle fields and commit more crimes."

While visiting a number of people wounded in the attack on a bazaar in Urgoon district of Paktika province, Qanooni asserted that the Pakistani Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) and the Haqqani Network were behind the attack on district.

"As our security institutions have reported, the Haqqani network was behind the attack," Qanooni said. "They would not have been successful without the cooperation of ISI."

During his visit, Qanooni spoke with some of the 23 people in the emergency hospital.

"I was there with my father and uncle to buy some goods," Samar, a 13-year-old injured in the attack, said.

The bazaar is said to have been one of the busiest areas in the district.

"My brother and father were also there when the blast happened," Padshah, another child wounded in the incident, said.

Qanooni's statements come as the government released hundreds of Taliban prisoners this year. The released prisoners were accused of insurgency arrested by the U.S. forces after they took charge of the Bagram prison. Reports indicate that most of the released members rejoined Taliban insurgency soon after their release.

The heavy explosion on Urgoon on Tuesday resulted in the death and injury of about 200 civilians. Urgoon residents have criticized the government's inadequacy in transporting the wounded to the hospital. The residents stated that due to the lack fast transportation options such as helicopters, many of the injured lost their lives before getting to the hospital.

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:17:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15642-qanooni-criticizes-taliban-release
Karzai Visits Urgoon http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15641-karzai-visits-urgoon alt

Three days after a deadly attack on a bazaar in Urgoon district of Paktika province, President Karzai traveled to the province to offer condolences to the victim families.

While meeting with the survivors, Karzai promised to facilitate the reconstruction of the district.

"We will rebuild your mosque and your bazaar, and we will give land to the survivors," Karzai said. "We will offer any help in our capacity."

President Karzai called on businessmen and aid intuitions to help those affected by the attack.

"From here, we call on all people of Afghanistan to help the same way they helped people in Argo district of Badakhshan province," Karzai added.

Karzai's visit was welcomed by Pakitika Governor Mohebullah Samim.

"We thank you for coming here Mr. President," Samim said. "Your visit will decrease the pain of the people of Urgoon."

A suicide bomber exploded his truck Tuesday afternoon after being stopped for police search in Urgoon.The explosion destructed an entire bazaar, resulting in many civilian causalities.

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:10:51 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15641-karzai-visits-urgoon
Audit Goes Into Second Day http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15640-audit-goes-into-second-day alt

On the second day of audit process, Afghanistan Free and Fair Election Foundation and Abdullah Abdullah observers have said that IEC and UN must audit more precisely. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai campaign team has said that domestic and international observers and representatives from both candidates must confirm quality of audit.

On the second day, domestic observers and campaign teams of both candidates have remarks regarding the audit process. FEFA observers have said that if the audit process does not move forward more in order, the audit time might go beyond the set period of time.

"When I entered the centers today, European Union representatives were not present in all the tables. UN observers were there though. Because, the process is under the supervision of UN, UN must be very precise and Commissions must be accountable" says Muhammad Naeem Asghari, Programs Manager at FEFA.

While Abdullah Abdullah campaign team criticizes quality of audit, other leaves quality and method of the process to the domestic and international observers.

"Here, a number of IEC employees who are behind the desks, do not have any clue of what is happening, and are wasting our time" says Amrullah Aman, member of Abdullah Abdullah campaign team.

"We support the process and leave it on International Observers, UNAMA and observers of both teams to comment on quality of audit" says Muhammad Haleem Fedayee, member of Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai campaign team.

Meanwhile, transfer process of ballots in the provinces has started in cooperation of ISAF, NATO, UN and with the on hand facilities of Afghan National Security Forces and IEC, so that the ballots are transferred on time.

"Based on the mechanism set by the Independent Election Commission, every box must be audited in an hour while speeding up over time, with many boxes being audited in a day" says Noor Muhammad Noor, IEC Spokesman.

IEC adds that so far 135 EU observers, 120 observers from both candidates have been trained alongside 300 IEC employees, so that the results of audit are acceptable.

During the audit of runoff ballots, so far ballots from Kabul province are being audited, with provinces next to Kabul such as Wardak, Logar, Kapisa and other provinces to start upon arrival in Kabul.

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 13:21:59 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15640-audit-goes-into-second-day
ELECTION 2014:Auditing of Runoff Votes http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15639-election-2014auditing-of-runoff-votes alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Omid Farooq discusses the vote auditing with the following guests:

Abdul Rahman Hotaki , IEC Deputy Chairman

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}W_6tKv5x-70{/youtube}

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 07:37:19 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15639-election-2014auditing-of-runoff-votes
TAKANI: Auditing of Runoff Votes Begins http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15638-takani-auditing-of-runoff-votes-begins alt

In this episode of Takani host Shapoor Bakhtiyar discusses the auditing of runoff votes with the following guests:

Abdul Jabar Shelgari, Dr Abdullah's campaign team member

Siddiq Patman, Dr Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's campaign team member

Jandad Spinghar, head of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FFEFA)

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}rxXP5xtd5Sw{/youtube}

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 07:31:53 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15638-takani-auditing-of-runoff-votes-begins
24 Insurgents Join Baghlan Peace Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15637-24-insurgents-join-baghlan-peace-process alt

A group of 24 insurgents on Wednesday surrendered their weapons and joined the peace process in Northern Baghlan province.

According to the Baghlan Police Chief Gen. Aminullah Amarkhail, the insurgents--who were previously active in Bano district-- joined the government peace process because of the efforts of tribal elders and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

"This is a good step toward building peace and stability in the province," Gen. Amarkhail stated while asking other insurgents to also join the process and ensure everlasting peace and stability in the country.

Meanwhile, about 96 other insurgents had surrendered their weapons in northern Baghlan province earlier this week on Monday.

According to a spokesman for the provincial police chief, Jawid Basharat, the insurgents handed over their weapons in Pul-e-Khumri, the center of Baghlan province. Basharat stressed that the coalition of insurgents with the peace process will improve Baghlan's security.

Insurgent activities have recently escalated as foreign troops get ready to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, handing over all security responsibilities to ANSF.

There are about 50,000 foreign troops still based in Afghanistan. The number of active ANSF members reach roughly 350,000.

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 07:21:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15637-24-insurgents-join-baghlan-peace-process
Malaysian Airliner 'Crashes in East Ukraine': Reports http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15636-malaysian-airliner-crashes-in-east-ukraine-reports alt

A Malaysian passenger liner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has crashed in insurgency-wracked east Ukraine, regional officials said Thursday, as Ukraine's president said the jet may have been shot down.

Malaysia Airlines said it had "lost contact" with the Boeing passenger liner, which Ukrainian officials said had come down in a rebel-held zone in the Donetsk region.

"Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam," the airline, still reeling from the disappearance of flight MH370, said on its Twitter account.

"The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace," it said, promising more details soon.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the jet may have been shot down.

"We do not exclude that the plane was shot down and confirm that the Ukraine Armed Forces did not fire at any targets in the sky," Poroshenko said in a statement posted on the president's website.

Regional officials in Donetsk confirmed the plane had come down near the town of Shaktarsk.

"The number of dead is not yet known," the administration said in a statement.

Emergency services were rushing to the scene, a security source told Interfax-Ukraine.

US stocks fell sharply following reports the Malaysia Airlines plane had been shot down, while Britain's Foreign Office said it was "working urgently to find out what's happened."

The incident comes just months after Malaysia's Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 with 239 on board. The plane diverted from its Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight path and its fate remains a mystery despite a massive aerial and underwater search.

- Ukrainian jet 'downed' -

The reported crash came after Kiev accused Russia of downing a Ukrainian military plane on a mission over the east of the country, stoking tensions in the growing conflict on the edges of Europe that has claimed over 600 lives.

The allegation came a day after the US and EU bolstered sanctions against Russia over its perceived support of the separatist insurgency in the ex-Soviet state.

Moscow condemned the punitive measures against it as "blackmail" and warned of retaliatory actions against Washington.

In the first direct claim of a Russian attack on Ukrainian forces, Kiev said a Russian airforce jet shot down a Ukrainian warplane Wednesday evening -- before the fresh round of Western sanctions were announced -- as it was carrying out its duties.

The pilot of the Su-25 plane managed to eject and was rescued by Kiev forces, Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council said.

Russia's defence ministry -- which NATO claims has massed some 12,000 troops along Ukraine's porous border -- dismissed the claim as "absurd", Russian news agencies reported.

- Sanctions hit Russian stocks -

The dramatic developments on the ground came alongside a major diplomatic fallout over fresh Western sanctions that Washington and Brussels hope will force Moscow to help halt the conflict.

In a tough move that left the EU trailing in his wake, US President Barack Obama took a swipe at major players in Russia's finance, military and energy sectors in sanctions imposed Wednesday.

The Russian foreign ministry reacted in a furious statement: "We do not intend to tolerate blackmail and reserve the right to take retaliatory measures" against the US.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier warned that sanctions would inflict "very serious damage" on the already tattered US-Russia relationship.

- Talks promised -

In eastern Ukraine fierce fighting between government forces and pro-Moscow rebels has intensified in recent days with some 55 civilians killed since the weekend.

The fighting forced more than a dozen Ukrainian border guards to flee into Russia seeking medical help with one dying from his injuries, the Russian authorities said.

Germany and France have been spearheading a push to revive talks between Kiev and the rebels over a potential ceasefire but attempts to hold a Skype videoconference fell through Tuesday.

Ukrainian forces made a string of major gains after Poroshenko tore up an unsuccessful ceasefire earlier this month, but progress has slowed since rebels retreated into two major regional centres where they have pledged to fight to the end.

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Fri, 18 Jul 2014 03:11:51 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15636-malaysian-airliner-crashes-in-east-ukraine-reports
Auditing of Runoff Votes Begins http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15635-auditing-of-runoff-votes-begins alt

The auditing of all votes cast in the runoff election in June officially kicked-off on Thursday under the supervision of domestic and international observers. The start of the audit materializes one of the central parts of the agreement made between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai last week when they negotiated a deal to put an end to the election crisis.

Just before the auditing began at the Independent Election Commission's (IEC) headquarters in Kabul on Thursday, the commission's Chairman, Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani, appeared at a press briefing and reminded the presidential candidates that they would have no choice but to accept the outcomes of the audit, as per the agreement they themselves made.

"The outcomes of the auditing will be final, both presidential candidates are obliged to accept the results," Nuristani said.

The deal made last week, which called for a comprehensive vote audit under United Nations (UN) supervision as well as the formation of a "national unity government" after the election is over, was considered an essential step to getting Abdullah back to the process and deescalating tensions between the two candidates' supporters. The gravity of the situation was fully conveyed by the fact that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry felt it necessary to fly to Kabul and mediate the negotiations himself.

The auditing process has remained a key demand of the Abdullah camp since just days after polls closed in June. But the presence of domestic and international observers, which is expected to be extensive during the auditing process, will hopefully convince both camps of the process' credibility.

Election monitoring groups have expressed optimism regarding the start of the audit process. "So far, the process looks very efficient and very careful...very precise, so I am pleased with the process so far," Democracy International's Gregory Minjack said on Thursday.

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham also oversaw the audit's start on Thursday and expressed satisfaction. He assured that the auditing is taking place in accordance with international standards.

"Both the candidates have committed themselves to accept the result of the audit, there will be very strong international supervision and observation of the audit to try to make sure it is as fair and credible as possible," Ambassador Cunningham said. "I understand from walking through the stations that the process is going well, people know what they are doing. The candidate agents are their observing so all the pieces seem to be coming together."

The Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) and the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) have also dispatched up to 80 observers to monitor the auditing process.

"The auditing is taking place in the right way, but there is some mismanagement, and it is the hope that in the coming days things get better as the presence of observers and guests becomes limited," FEFA Chief Nadir Naderi said, noting the reality that most of the auditing process will likely have less involvement from top officials like Ambassador Cunningham as it wears on.

"As we are aware, IEC staffs have been trained, but some of them had their own problems, for instance, they were mixing the ballot papers of the two candidates," TEFA Chief Mohammad Naeem Ayoubzada said.

Meanwhile, observers representing Ghani and Abdullah also spoke out about the audit. Unsurprisingly, Ghani's camp expressed satisfaction with the process while Abdullah's representative suggested there were already some concerns.

"We are completely satisfied about things and we are satisfied about the auditing," an observer of the Ghani team named Ashna Gul Bandawal said.

"Unfortunately, what we were promised by the international community, that the votes would be audited according to global standards, isn't appearing here," Abdullah's observer Amrullah Aman said. "It is hoped that these promises are honored in the coming days."

The auditing process lasted for three hours on Thursday, with thirty groups of three members each auditing up to 30 ballot boxes. The process is expected to continue for three weeks.

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Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:53:08 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15635-auditing-of-runoff-votes-begins
TOLOnews 6 pm News 17 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15634-tolonews-6-pm-news-17-july-2014 alt

A group of suicide attackers early Thursday morning attacked Kabul International Airport (KIA) and started clashes with the Afghan National Security forces (ANSF).

To watch the bulletin, click here:

{youtube}rsldvOAOTII{/youtube}

Deputy Interior Minister Gen. Ayoub Salangi tells TOLOnews that about 4:20 a.m. local time insurgents positioned under a construction building in Qasaba area began firing at the airport.

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Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:31:19 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15634-tolonews-6-pm-news-17-july-2014
We Have Made an Agreement, Not a Deal: Abdullah http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15633-we-have-made-an-agreement-not-a-deal-abdullah alt

Appearing in a press conference for the first time since the resolution of the election deadlock, presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah revealed behind the curtain discussions with opponent Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai.

"Both sides have agreed that regardless of the final results, it is a win-win situation," Abdullah said. "Vote audits must take place transparently and with the observation of representatives from both campaign teams. Waheed Omer will be our representative."

Creation of the "national unity government" is still one of the most important topics of discussion between the candidates.

"What we have agreed on is a commitment to shared principles regarding the creation of a national unity government," Abdullah asserted. "We reject any claims regarding making a deal."

Moreover, Abdullah stated that the spirit of cooperation between the two candidates is much better, emphasizing that transparency is among his key demands.

"Our observers will work closely in provinces and the capital to ensure transparency this time," Abdullah added. "There is a better spirit between us [the campaign teams] and we would like to keep it up."

People are optimistic about the election results as candidates make truce after the prolonged electoral tensions. One of the most important topics of discussion between the two campaign candidates has been the shift from the country's presidential system to a parliamentarian one.

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Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:39:03 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15633-we-have-made-an-agreement-not-a-deal-abdullah
Saffron to Replace Poppy http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/15632-saffron-to-replace-poppy alt

According to the Agriculture Development Department, it is expected that 5,000 ton saffron will be harvested in 32 provinces of Afghanistan this year. In recent years, the country has witnessed a tangible interest in saffron cultivation.

Known for its high quality in the world market and with the price of 100,000 Afghanis per kg, saffron is considered the best alternative for poppy cultivation in the county. For this reason, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation & Livestock (MAIL) has started to undertake agricultural exhibitions to further promote saffron among farmers.

"We are aware that the interest in saffron production has increased," Head of MAIL's Agriculture Development Department, Hamdullah Hamdard, said. "We have established around 100 exhibitive pieces in various provinces so that the farmers get familiarized with saffron production and receive technical support."

Agriculture experts assert that the government should cooperate with those interested in saffron production in order to further expand the production country-wide.

"Saffron needs very little water and all members of a family can contribute to its cultivation. It also provides good income for the family," agriculture expert Syed Nabil Shinwari said. "The herb is significant for the economic sector; the government must work on expanding its production."

Considering that Afghanistan constitutes as the world's largest producer of opium, the shift to the production of saffron--one of the best alternatives to poppy-- is majorly significant for the country.

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Thu, 17 Jul 2014 12:09:47 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/15632-saffron-to-replace-poppy
Taliban Ambush Karzai Security Team in Paktia http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15631-taliban-ambush-karzai-security-team-in-paktia alt

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's security team is ambushed in Zurmat on Thursday as they were on their way to Urgoon ahead of Karzai's visit to offer condolences. ‎

Karzai's Deputy Spokesperson Faiq Wahidi told TOLOnew "this morning, the security convoy of the president of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan was on its way toward Paktia province when the Taliban ambushed the convoy in the suburb of Gardiz city, after the clash between the two sides, reinforcement dispatched to the area, currently the clash has ended and the security team is continuing on its way, so far we have recorded four injuries."

At least four Presidential Protection Service (PPS) guards are wounded as fighting still continues. Reinforcement has been dispatched.

There are reports of some PPS servicemen being captured by the Taliban in Zurmat district.

Sources says that the guards are either out or low on ammunition.

About two dozen PPS forces were driving to Urgoon as an advance team to prepare for President Karzai's visit.

Afghan National Army Maj. Gen. Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, commander of the 203rd "Thunder" Corps, rejected the Taliban ambush claims on Karzai's security team but confirmed the existence of the team in Zurmat district of Paktia province.

"They are not under any siege, they just lost their way and about 500 assistance forces have been sent to the area," Yaftali told TOLOnews.

According to reports the number of PPS security guards sent in advance is 50. The Taliban siege has been broken by Afghan security forces.

Sources say there are causalities, but the exact number is not clear.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Thu, 17 Jul 2014 08:42:39 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15631-taliban-ambush-karzai-security-team-in-paktia
ELECTION 2014: Candidates Meeting and Audit Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15630-election-2014-candidates-meeting-and-audit-process alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Muslim Sherzad, discusses candidates meeting and audit process with the following guests:

Faizullah Zaki, Dr Ashraf Ghani's Campaign member

Noor Mohammad Noor, IEC spokesman

Fahim Dashti, Journalist

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}GROCsO3Mcq8{/youtube}

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Thu, 17 Jul 2014 06:32:56 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15630-election-2014-candidates-meeting-and-audit-process
Insurgents Attack Kabul Airport http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15629-insurgents-attack-kabul-airport alt

A group of suicide attackers early Thursday morning attacked Kabul International Airport (KIA) and started clashes with the Afghan National Security forces (ANSF).

Deputy Interior Minister Gen. Ayoub Salangi tells TOLOnews that about 4:20 a.m. local time insurgents positioned under a construction building in Qasaba area began firing at the airport.‎

According to the Ministry of Interior (MoI) Spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, there were six insurgents.

Four of the six insurgents were gunned down by ANSF and the two others detonated their explosives killing themselves.

The first suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden car at the start of the clash only claiming his life; the second suicide bomber detonated himself before being gunned down by the ANSF.

The foreign troops supported the ANSF with air force.

Security officials say that Commander of Army Brigade 111, Gen. Qadam Shah Shahim, was wounded in the attack and hospitalized in Sardar Mohammad Daoud Khan hospital for further treatments.

"I was shot but it is not serious. I am doing fine now," Gen. Shahim said.

The clash ended around 9 a.m. local time with no civilian causalities. According to reports, the insurgents were targeting military aircrafts that are housed at the airport. According to Deputy Minister of Interior for Security Affairs, Gen. Mohammad Ayoub Salangi, there were no damages to the military aircrafts the insurgents were targeting.

"Two rocket launchers and ammunitions that belonged to the insurgents have been confiscated," Salangi, said. "No civilian and military personnel were hurt in the attack."

Haq Nawaz Haqiar, commander of the Afghan border police forces at Kabul airport, confirmed Thursday's attack on Kabul airport, saying that no damages were brought to commercial and military aircrafts.

Haqiar told TOLOnews that due to protection of the passengers all flights are delayed. The airport will be ready for takeoff and landing soon.

Meanwhile, a number of eye witnesses in the area shared their accounts of the attack with TOLOnews.

alt

"It was around 4:00 am when the first rocket was fired," a Kabul resident Mohammad Samim said. "The clash began soon after."

The eyewitnesses express satisfaction with the ANSF's counterattacks.

"We thank the security forces; we are completely satisfied with their performance," Qasaba resident Afzal said.

Moreover, there are allegations that the Pakistani laborers working in the Kabul airport had helped the attackers.

"It is possible that Pakistani laborers working here paved the way for the suicide attackers," Qasaba resident Malikyar said.
This is while Gen. Salangi accused the regional intelligence services of being involved in the attack.

"Without the support of regional intelligence services, the execution of these attacks would be impossible," Salangi asserted.

Furthermore, the MoI has stated that the attack was in a way a revenge for the attack on Karachi Airport.

"The attacks on Kabul Airport have increased after the attack on Karachi Airport--for which the Pakistani government blames the Afghan government," MoI Spokesman Sediq Sediqi said. "We think that Taliban, the Haqqani Network and the Pakistani intelligence want to conduct similar attacks on Kabul Airport."

This is the third attack on KIA in a month. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.

To watch the footage, click here:

{youtube}RM1S8itfRec{/youtube}

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Thu, 17 Jul 2014 02:33:44 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15629-insurgents-attack-kabul-airport
Afghan Constitution to be Amended Within Two Years http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15628-afghan-constitution-to-be-amended-within-two-years alt

Presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah's agreement on a political framework that was arranged by U.S. Secretary of State's visit to Afghanistan states that amendments will be made to the country's constitution within the next two years, according to a copy of the contract obtained by TOLOnews.

The two candidates agreed that Afghanistan's constitution would be amended within two years to work toward a prime ministerial system. Within the two years they agreed to convene a Loya Jirga as well.

The agreement states that the president, once elected, would immediately form a chief executive position as well as a head of opposition post that can either be filled by the losing candidate or someone of his choice.

Once the position is filled, the president and the head of opposition will jointly pick and choose key security and economic posts. Positions at the provincial levels will be consulted with the head of opposition.

The president also promises to keep prominent security chiefs for a period of, at least, 90 days.

The government, according to the agreement, is obligated to bring significant reforms to the electoral bodies within a year.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came to Afghanistan over the weekend to resolve the electoral impasse that hindered the election process prolonging the course of the Afghan elections.

Secretary Kerry left Afghanistan brokering an agreement between the two candidates that included a new political structure as well as auditing all 8.1 million votes in hopes of bringing faith back into the transparency and legitimacy of the process.

The audit process is said to take up to three weeks. The final result of the presidential runoff would be broadcasted once the audits of votes have completed.

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:39:15 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15628-afghan-constitution-to-be-amended-within-two-years
TOLOnews 6 pm News 16 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15627-tolonews-6-pm-news-16-july-2014 alt

The comprehensive audit of votes cast during the runoff election will begin at the central office of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kabul on Thursday, according to officials. The IEC will take the lead in the process and it will be monitored by the United Nations (UN).

According to the election commissions, around 100 groups of two or three people have been formed to audit the ballot boxes, totaling just over eight million votes in all.

{youtube}uZeNIwi-dgE{/youtube}

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 15:49:47 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15627-tolonews-6-pm-news-16-july-2014
Audit Process to Begin Thursday http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15626-audit-process-to-begin-thursday alt

The comprehensive audit of votes cast during the runoff election will begin at the central office of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kabul on Thursday, according to officials. The IEC will take the lead in the process and it will be monitored by the United Nations (UN).

According to the election commissions, around 100 groups of two or three people have been formed to audit the ballot boxes, totaling just over eight million votes in all.

"God willing, the audit process begins tomorrow," IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said at a press conference on Wednesday. "All the observers can monitor the process and there are no restrictions on them."

The audit was a central part of the deal made between Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah over the weekend when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came to Afghanistan to diffuse the election crisis. Their agreement included the conditions that the IEC reassess all votes before announcing a final result and do so under the supervision of the UN, along with the normal observers from Afghan civil society groups and the candidates' camps.

The IEC announced on Wednesday that the commission, in coordination with candidates, had finalized the auditing procedure they planned to use.

The procedure is said to be guided by the following questions:

1-Are the boxes the same boxes that were distributed by the commission?

2-Are the boxes in good shape?

3-Do the boxes have tags including information about centers and polling sites?

4-How many locks do the boxes have and are they functional?

5-Can we open the locks by hand?

6-Does the serial number the lock match with what's written on the result sheet?

7-Are the copies of result sheets inside the boxes?

8-Are there unused and invalid ballot papers inside the boxes?

9-Do the ballot papers in favor of a candidate include the necessary stamps?

10-Are the markings on the used ballot papers similar to other ballots inside the box?

11-Are the ballot papers signed according to the commission's procedures?

12-Is there evidence proving differences between result sheets and the number of used papers inside the boxes?

13-Are the copies of the result sheets the same as the results that were logged at vote counting centers?

14-Are the minutes from Election Day and list of voters available?

The IEC has said that the votes of centers where a particular candidate got significantly more votes in the runoff than the first round will be audited as well, a condition that Ghani-Ahmadzai's team had originally rejected during talks with Abdullah's camp prior to the arrival of Secretary Kerry.

As the audit begins in the Kabul office of the IEC on Thursday, so too will the process of transferring ballot boxes from the provinces to the capital. Based on the agreement brokered by Mr. Kerry, the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) will oversee the transportation of the boxes.

Whether the audit process will significantly impact the results of the election remains to be seen. However, it is clear that had it not been for the audit, the election standoff would have likely continued, with Abdullah boycotting the process and decrying it as illegitimate on the basis of supposed fraud.

Election monitoring groups have expressed optimism regarding the start of the audit process, and how the rival campaigns would treat it moving forward.

"I have to believe it will be acceptable since they agreed to abide by the outcome of the audit and the audit will proceed under the cooperation of the international community and the Afghan institutions and therefore, we encourage and we hope and we expect that the campaigns will abide by the outcome," Democracy International's Gregory Minjack said.

The audit process could take up to three weeks. The final result of the presidential runoff would then be announced once complaints are addressed by the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC).

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:10:54 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15626-audit-process-to-begin-thursday
Abdullah to Host Ghani on Thursday http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15625-abdullah-to-host-ghani-on-thursday alt

Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah will host opponent Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai at his residence on Thursday, as political consultations and negotiations continue between the two candidates in regard to the formation of the "national unity government."

In his recent statement, Abdullah stated that a united, democratic government will be structured after auditing 100 percent of the votes, emphasizing that the agreement of the two campaign teams has no winner or loser.

"I think now we have a better prospect for the future of this country. One is that the technical side, the votes of the people of Afghanistan, will be counted, will be audited—thoroughly—through...an internationally supervised mechanism," Abdullah told the Associated Press. "That was the key for us because the legitimacy of the future government of Afghanistan is important."

Abdullah stressed that the U.S. mediation to break the electoral stalemate saved Afghanistan from heading toward a crisis, emphasizing that the vote auditing process will pave the way for the establishment of a democratic and legitimate government.

In addition to the candidates, the two campaign teams have also expressed optimism over the outcome of the negotiations. According to Abdullah's team, the central point of the negotiations would be the formation of a "national unity government."

"There is a possibility that Dr. Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai will be coming to Dr. Abdullah's residence to discuss the electoral issues as part of the recent negotiations," Abdullah's campaign spokesman, Syed Fazil Aqa Sancharaki, said.

Moreover, according to Ghani-Ahmadzai's team, both candidates have agreed to share perspectives and work jointly with the media teams.

"The achievements of the meetings are satisfactory and tomorrow both candidates will meet again," Ghani-Ahmadzai's campaign spokesman, Faizullah Zaki, said. "Both media teams have taken crucial steps to ensure the legitimacy of vote-count, continuing toward the formation of a national unity government. Later on, both teams will merge together."

Negotiations between the two candidates have reached hopeful ends , as Abdullah announced that both teams will work together regardless of who wins, confirming that a Loya Jirga will be held to change Afghanistan's presidential system to a parliamentary system.

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:08:20 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15625-abdullah-to-host-ghani-on-thursday
Prolonged Election Leaves Hundreds Jobless http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15623-prolonged-elections-process-leaves-hundreds-jobless alt

Hundreds of people have lost their jobs as the prolongation of the election process has contributed to a dramatic deterioration in businesses in the past six months.

Alongside the labor force, foreign firms and factory employees have also suffered the consequences of the prolonged electoral process.

"We hear about job recessions among the youth every day," said Chairman of the National Labor Union (NLU), Maroof Qaderi. "Recently, up to 3,000 people have lost their jobs at Bagram Airfield."

The election has impacted production factories, terminating many of their activities. According to a number of production employees, many factories have stopped working as they await the election outcomes.

"The election story must end soon because there are no job opportunities; so many people are jobless," factory worker, Hafiz, said.

Factory workers ask that the authorities attend to their concerns.

"For God's sake, end the election story," another worker, Nafeesa, said. "We are suffering from unemployment and the price hike is at its peak."

Meanwhile, head of the Afghanistan Industrialist Union, Sakhi Ahmad Paiman, has stated that the election results could leave potentially positive impacts on the employment process.

"We hope that the election results are announced with no more problems so that people could find jobs," Paiman said. "The industrialists cannot afford to face more concerns."

Based on the statistics of the labor union, 35,000 laborers—16,000 of who constitute as employees of Bagram airfield—have lost their jobs in the past six months.

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 11:45:16 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15623-prolonged-elections-process-leaves-hundreds-jobless
Insurgent Summer Offensives Raise Concerns http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15622-insurgent-summer-offensives-raise-concerns alt

The unprecedented waves of fires and coordinated missiles targeting specific areas in Kabul have raised concerns among authorities and the public.

"The armed opponents use several types of rockets and these rockets require necessary equipments such as launchers," political commentator Jawed Kohistani said. "The insurgents get access to such equipment in Pakistan's south Waziristan."

The attacks have raised major concerns about the security of the country's busiest airports.

Early Wednesday morning, two rockets targeted the Kabul International Airport (KIA) days after another attack had destroyed a helicopter at KIA. The helicopter is said to have belonged to the Presidential Palace.

Kabul witnessed an attack yesterday too in which many of the victims were staff members of the Presidential Palace. The inadequacy of intelligence services to prevent such attacks is always under scrutiny.

"I think our intelligence services need to increase their efficacy," head of the Parliamentary Commission on Internal Security, Mir Dad Khan Nejrabi, said. "They must try to trace and identify the plotters of these attacks."

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has also been criticized for not being able to detect and trace the rocket attacks with the help of the balloon cameras.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said that an expert meeting would be conducted in order to identify the plotters and prevent future attacks.

"We have invited our experts to discuss the recent attacks," Spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, Sediq Sediqqi, said. "The security of Kabul Airport is very important to us."

Security threats have produced concerns among people as they await the results of the prolonged presidential election process.

There were no causalities.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 06:49:33 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15622-insurgent-summer-offensives-raise-concerns
TAKANI: Government of National Unity http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15621-takani-government-of-national-unity alt

In this episode of Takani, Zabiullah Sadaat discusses the government of national unity with the following guests:

Tofan Waziri, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah's campaign team member

Noman Shinwari, Dr. Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's campaign team member

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}oakQ8BLBLvY{/youtube}

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 05:47:56 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15621-takani-government-of-national-unity
ELECTION 2014: Government of National Unity http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15620-election-2014-government-of-national-unity alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93 host, Omid Farooq discusses the government of national unity with the following guests:

Mohammad Natiqi, Dr Abdullah Abdullah's campaign team member

Siddiq Patman, Dr Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's campaign team member

Mohammad Qasim Wafai Zada, university lecturer

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}Suzwz6psS3M{/youtube}

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 05:45:38 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15620-election-2014-government-of-national-unity
FARAKHABAR: 15 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15619-farakhabar-15-july-2014 alt

A number of lawmakers and civil society activists on Tuesday voiced loud opposition to a new law making its way through Parliament that would grant new privileges, including a salary benefits, for Members of Parliament.

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}lGRH7XyG668{/youtube}

The lower house approved the law on Saturday, and demonstrations have taken place in front of the National Assembly building to show opposition to the law ever since.

While opposition to the law among MPs themselves was not enough to keep it form passing the Lower House over the weekend, a number of them have spoken out against the legislation since.

But before the draft legislation can become law, it must first be approved by the Senate. But the Upper House voted down the draft on Tuesday.

In this episode of Farakhabar host, Yama Siawish discusses the topic with the following guests:

Ramazan Bashardost, MP

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 05:39:20 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15619-farakhabar-15-july-2014
Deadly Attack Foiled in Paktiya http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15618-deadly-attack-foiled-in-paktiya alt

According to Afghan security officials a deadly attack foiled Tuesday night by national army special forces in the capital of Paktiya province.

National army first unit spokesman, Ahmad Jawed Salim, ‎told TOLOnews " a group of 20 terrorists who were trying to conduct suicide and group attacks similar to the attack in ‎Paktika province in Gardez capital of Paktiya were foiled in an army special forces operation which was launched Tuesday night around 10 p.m. and ended about 12 a.m.".

According to Salim, during this operation 19 Taliban insurgents were killed and one other was wounded.

During the operations heavy and light weapons were seized by the Afghan forces, Salim said.

It comes after at least 89 civilians were killed and nearly 50 others wounded on Tuesday when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden truck in a marketplace in Argon district in eastern Paktika province, bordering Pakistan.

The suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a crowded bazaar on Tuesday morning, destroying dozens of mud-made stores and erupting fire in several shops.

The Afghan Ministry of Interior blamed the Taliban for the attack, a blame the Taliban rejected.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the UN have condemned the attack in the strongest terms and linked the action to the enemies of Afghanistan.

Religious scholar Mawlawi Hedayat condemned the attack, saying it was against Islam's principles, particularly during the month of Ramadan.

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 03:24:15 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15618-deadly-attack-foiled-in-paktiya
Gaza Rocket Kills First Israeli as Truce Bid Fails http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15617-gaza-rocket-kills-first-israeli-as-truce-bid-fails alt

Israel resumed a punishing air campaign against Gaza Tuesday after its Palestinian foe Hamas rejected a truce and fired dozens of rockets over the border, killing an Israeli for the first time.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the army would "expand and intensify" its Gaza operation after Hamas rejected the Egyptian truce proposal.

The renewed Israeli strikes killed five Palestinians, raising the Gaza death toll in eight days of violence to 197, medics said.

An Israeli man was killed in a rocket attack on an Israeli position near the Erez crossing with Gaza, the army said.

Hamas's Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades armed wing said it carried out the attack.

The civilian had been delivering food to soldiers serving in the area, a spokesman for the Israeli emergency services told AFP.

Police later named him as Dror Hanin, 37, of the West Bank settlement Beit Aryeh.

The first Israeli death of the conflict came after nearly 1,000 rockets and mortar rounds hit the Jewish state. Four Israelis have been seriously wounded.

Early Tuesday, Israel's security cabinet said it would accept an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire to begin at 0600 GMT.

But Hamas officials said they had not been consulted on the proposal and would not halt fire without a full-fledged deal including Israeli concessions.

The movement's armed wing continued to fire dozens of rockets into Israel after the truce deadline, sending tens of thousands scrambling for cover.

At 1200 GMT, the Israeli army announced it was resuming air strikes, after militants fired 47 rockets from Gaza.

The fresh raids hit Gaza City, southern Khan Yunis, Rafah and central Johr al-Deeq, and killed five people.

- 'No choice' -

"This would have been better resolved diplomatically, that?s what we tried to do when we accepted the Egyptian truce proposal today," Netanyahu said.

"But Hamas leaves us no choice but to expand and intensify the campaign against it," he added.

Late Tuesday, the Israeli army said it was sending messages to residents of parts of eastern and northern Gaza, "requesting them to evacuate their homes for their own safety" ahead of new strikes.

The army issued similar messages to north Gaza residents on Sunday, causing the exodus of 17,000 people who took shelter in United Nations schools.

Overnight, Hamas's Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades armed wing had rejected the Egyptian proposal for a truce to be followed by talks.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the movement had not been consulted on the truce bid, and called the idea of halting fire before agreeing on terms "unacceptable".

A top member of Hamas's exiled politburo, Mussa Abu Marzuq, sounded a more cautious note, saying the movement had no official position on the proposal and discussions were continuing.

Hamas has said it wants the end of Israel's blockade of Gaza and the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt as part of a truce deal.

It also wants Israel to free Palestinians it rearrested after releasing them in a 2011 exchange for an Israeli soldier held by Gaza militants for more than five years.

- 'Cool and with patience' -

In his remarks on Tuesday evening, Netanyahu hit back at domestic critics of his decision to accept Egypt's proposal.

"These are moments when decisions must be made coolly and with patience, not hastily or noisily," Netanyahu said.

The Israeli premier also fired deputy defence minister Danny Danon, a firebrand member of his Likud party, who was a vocal critic of him during the operation.

Cairo's proposal was announced overnight, and urged both sides to halt the violence and travel to Egypt for talks.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was due in Cairo on Wednesday, but it was unclear if Hamas officials there were continuing to discuss the truce bid and if Israeli officials would also travel to Egypt.

The proposal won support from Western governments with US President Barack Obama saying he was "encouraged" by Egypt's efforts and hoped to see calm restored.

And even after the violence resumed, the US State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry would "remain engaged" and use "every tool in our toolbox to return to the ceasefire."

"In our view we need to all remember what's at stake here: we will continue to work for a ceasefire," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Israel launched Operation Protective Edge before dawn on July 8, hitting Gaza with an intensive air and artillery bombardment aimed at stamping out rocket fire.

Since then, 960 rockets have hit Israel, while another 215 have been intercepted by its Iron Dome air defence system, the army said.

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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 02:51:28 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15617-gaza-rocket-kills-first-israeli-as-truce-bid-fails
TOLOnews 6 pm News 15 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15616-tolonews-6-pm-news-15-july-2014 alt

The two Afghan presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai held a 90-minute long face-to-face talk on Tuesday, their first meeting after the end of an electoral impasse earlier this week.

To watch the bulletin, click here:

{youtube}rSI_qqy-DB4{/youtube}

Today's meeting hosted by Ashraf Ghani at his residence in Darul-Aman, in Kabul's west, was a "step forward to implement the agreements" made with the US Secretary of State John Kerry's facilitation on Saturday.

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Tue, 15 Jul 2014 15:44:31 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15616-tolonews-6-pm-news-15-july-2014
Senate-Civil Society Oppose New Privileges for MPs http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15615-senate-civil-society-oppose-new-privileges-for-mps alt

A number of lawmakers and civil society activists on Tuesday voiced loud opposition to a new law making its way through Parliament that would grant new privileges, including salary benefits, for Members of Parliament.

The lower house approved the law on Saturday, and demonstrations have taken place in front of the National Assembly building to show opposition to the law ever since.

"It is very unfortunate that a number of MPs are seeking more benefits considering the situation that exists in the country," a protestor named Rafiullah Herawi told TOLOnews on Tuesday.

"There are members of the National Assembly who are the reasons for the expansion of corruption in the country and today they seek more privileges in a very shameful way," another protestor named Shabnam Warasta said.

While opposition to the law among MPs themselves was not enough to keep it from passing the Lower House over the weekend, a number of them have spoken out against the legislation since.

"The law has been approved by those who always favor themselves and their wealth, we will continue fighting such a thing and those seeking to make themselves richer," said Naqibullah Fayeq, the head of Parliament's Commission on Health and Sports.

Herat MP Nahid Fareed was adamant that the financial expenditures to be allocated to the lawmakers according to the law could be used for something better, like development projects.

"If the law is approved, in the coming 20 years, the amount that is going to be allocated to more than 1,000 Parliament members is around $240 million," Fareed said. "We can use this for building roads, schools and anything else so that people live in comfort."

But before the draft legislation can become law, it must first be approved by the Senate. But the Upper House voted down the draft on Tuesday.

"Foreign countries pay the salaries of our police and army personnel, we are not able to pay their salaries, and there are thousands of poor and impoverished people in the country - we do not maintain the right to allocate such privileges to ourselves," Senator Tayyeba Zahid said on Tuesday.

Senate Speaker Fazel Hadi Muslimyar applauded his colleagues for rejecting the draft law. "This is really good that members of the Senate rejected the law with a visible majority, it is a happy moment," he said.

The draft law states that if members of the National Assembly are not re-elected in the next round of parliamentary elections, they would continue to receive 25 percent of their current salaries, which are already much higher than the normal salary of a government worker or security forces member. The law would also provide them with a political passport, house and bodyguards after they've lost their seat.

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Tue, 15 Jul 2014 15:14:05 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15615-senate-civil-society-oppose-new-privileges-for-mps
Abdullah & Ghani Hold Face-to-Face Election Talks http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15614-abdullah-a-ghani-hold-face-to-face-election-talks- alt

The two Afghan presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai held a 90-minute long face-to-face talk on Tuesday, their first meeting after the end of an electoral impasse earlier this week.

Today's meeting hosted by Ashraf Ghani at his residence in Darul-Aman, in Kabul's west, was a "step forward to implement the agreements" made with the US Secretary of State John Kerry's facilitation on Saturday.

The two candidates agreed to an overall vote audit and formation of a national unity government led by winner of the elections after the disputed votes are inspected.

Prior to the meeting on Tuesday noon, Ashraf Ghani had told the Associated Press that the two candidates would discuss the 'national-unity-government' set up.

Speaking on behalf of both candidates after their meeting, Ashraf Ghani's ally Faizullah Zaki reiterated that the purpose of the meeting was to focus on implementation of the agreements, adding that both candidates vowed to avoid rhetoric statements during the auditing process.

The meeting was held in an "environment of trust and brotherhood" which Mr Zaki said it showed "commitments of the two candidates" to the agreement.

Both candidates have agreed to a one-page deal which has not been publically shared yet. Aides close to both candidates say the agreement mainly focuses on accepting the results after the audit and forming a joint government.

"The key aspect of my discussion with Abdullah will be around the legitimate government institutions in order to provide response to all perspectives, but the discussions would be conducted in line with the constitution and the decisions would be executed," Ashraf Ghani had told AP a day earlier.

The meeting is said to "build trust" between the two camps and it was welcomed by election watchdog bodies such as the Free and Fair Election Foundation, FEFA.

Kabul resident Abdul Haseeb, said the meeting made him more optimistic about the future, urging the candidates to join hands.

"Businesses are doing better now and there is more optimism," reacted another Kabul resident, Ahmad Khalid, who owns a shop in the capital.

A follow up meeting is scheduled at Abdullah's residence in the coming days to further build on the talks initiated earlier this week.

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Tue, 15 Jul 2014 14:15:36 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15614-abdullah-a-ghani-hold-face-to-face-election-talks-
Afghanistan's 'Historic' Vote Audit Still to Begin http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15613-afghanistans-historic-vote-audit-still-to-begin- alt

The Afghan election body tasked to audit all eight million ballot papers to restore faith to the disputed elections on Tuesday said it has yet to begin what is called a historic audit, blaming the United Nations (UN) for failing to dispatch international observers to monitor the process.

Speaking to TOLOnews, Independent Election Commission (IEC) commissioner Mohammad Aziz Bakhtyari said the UN's mission in Afghanistan has asked them not to begin the auditing in absence of the international observers.

"The reason which has delayed the auditing process is because the UN has recommended that it must be conducted under thesupervision of national and international observers, but until now, the observers haven't arrived," said Bakhtyari.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry who ended an electoral impasse on Saturday after two days of talks with both Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai, called for an overall audit to begin within 24 hours.

The UN, overseeing the audit, met with the election commission and representatives of the candidates on Sunday to develop a checklist to determine fraudulent votes.

Abdullah's camp has claimed that more than three million fraudulent votes are counted in the preliminary results which need to be taken out.

"Today, the checklist and the standards will be finalized," Bakhtyari said. "Eleven standards have been recommended by the IEC and five others by the UN." 

The audit will be monitored by the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), the panel which certifies the final results -- now expected to be announced with a few weeks delay from the original July 22 deadline.

"ECC staff will conduct monitoring of the [auditing] process. The results will come to us and we will take a decision on the final results," said ECC spokesman Nadir Mohseni.

The overall audit is said to be a difficult process logistically as most of the ballot boxes are in the provinces. NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has agreed to transport all the boxes to Kabul where the audit will take place.

Both candidates have agreed to accept the results after the audit and the winner would accommodate the loser into a "national unity government" which its details are yet to be developed by the two candidates.

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Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:21:11 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15613-afghanistans-historic-vote-audit-still-to-begin-
89 Afghans Killed in Deadly Suicide Attack http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15612-89-afghans-die-in-deadly-suicide-attack alt

At least 89 civilians have been killed and nearly 50 others have been wounded when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden truck in a marketplace in Argon district in eastern Paktika province, bordering Pakistan.

The suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a crowded bazaar on Tuesday morning, destroying dozens of mud-made stores and erupting fire in several shops.

The Afghan Ministry of Interior blamed the Taliban for the attack, a blame the Taliban rejected.

The Afghan army has taken out 89 bodies from under the rubble and evacuated 42 wounded to hospitals in the provincial capital, Sharana, and the capital of Kabul.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, Gen. Zahir Azimi, said two medivac helicopters were sent to Argon with eight military doctors and first aid needs.

The United Nations (UN) has condemned the attack in strongest terms.

"Today's appalling attack during Ramadan – an occasion that should observed in a spirit of peace and compassion – should be condemned in the strongest possible terms and the perpetrators must be held accountable," said the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš.

Religious scholar Mawlawi Hedayat condemned the attack, saying it was against Islam's principles, particularly during the month of Ramadan.

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Tue, 15 Jul 2014 08:40:23 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15612-89-afghans-die-in-deadly-suicide-attack
Taliban Attack Police Outpost in Khost http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15611-taliban-attack-police-outpost-in-khost alt

At least 11 Taliban insurgents, four policemen and a civilian were killed in a Taliban attack on a security outpost in eastern Khost province on Tuesday, local officials said.

The clash took place in Jaji Maidan district of the province when the Taliban insurgents attacked a police outpost, said Mohammad Yaqoub, a police official of Khost.

"The clash still continues since this morning when the Taliban insurgents attacked the police outpost killing four policemen and a civilian," he said.

More security forces have been deployed to the area to support the police, he added.

However, the Taliban have not yet commented about the clash.

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Tue, 15 Jul 2014 08:32:40 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15611-taliban-attack-police-outpost-in-khost
ELECTION 2014: The Investigations of Votes http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15610-election-2014-the-investigations-of-votes alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Omid Farooq discusses the investigations of votes and the role of the Independent Election Commission with following the guests:

• Sardar Mohammad Rahimi, member of Abdullah Abdullah's team
• Shah Gul Razaye, member of Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's team
• Shah Hussian Murtazawi, journalist
• Bari Salam, a civil society activist

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}g9gaMFYjYAM{/youtube}

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Tue, 15 Jul 2014 07:46:19 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15610-election-2014-the-investigations-of-votes
Egypt Proposes Cease-Fire Between Israel, Hamas http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15609-egypt-proposes-cease-fire-between-israel-hamas alt

Egypt presented a cease-fire plan Monday to end a week of heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip that has left at least 185 people dead, and both sides said they were seriously considering the proposal.

The late-night offer by Egypt marked the first sign of a breakthrough in international efforts to end the conflict.

Hamas' top leader in Gaza confirmed there was "diplomatic movement," while Israel's policy-making Security Cabinet was set to discuss the proposal early Tuesday. Arab foreign ministers discussed the plan Monday night at an emergency meeting in Cairo, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was expected in the region Tuesday.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry announced the three-step plan starting at 9 a.m. (0600 GMT, 2 a.m. EDT) with a cease-fire to go into effect within 12 hours of "unconditional acceptance" by the two sides. That would be followed by the opening of Gaza's border crossings and talks in Cairo between the sides within two days, according to the statement.

Gaza's crossings should be opened for people and goods "once the security situation becomes stable," according to a copy of the proposal obtained by The Associated Press.

The United States welcomed the cease-fire plan. White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the U.S. hopes the plan will lead to calm being restored as soon as possible and that escalation won't benefit Israelis or Palestinians.

Israel launched the offensive July 8, saying it was a response to weeks of heavy rocket fire out of Hamas-ruled Gaza. The Health Ministry in Gaza said 185 people, including dozens of civilians, have been killed, and more than 1,000 people wounded.

There have been no Israelis killed, although several have been wounded by rocket shrapnel, including two sisters, ages 11 and 13, who were seriously hurt Monday. Ahead of the Egyptian announcement, there appeared to be no slowdown in the fighting, with Hamas for the first time launching an unmanned drone into Israeli airspace that was shot down.

The Israeli military said 3 rockets were fired at the southern city of Eilat early Tuesday morning, lightly injuring two people and sparking a fire. The military said it did not immediately know who was behind the rocket fire. Previous rocket attacks on Eilat were from radical Islamic militants in the neighboring Sinai Peninsula.

The violence followed the kidnappings and killings of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last month, as well as the subsequent kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager in an apparent revenge attack, along with Israeli raids against Hamas militants and infrastructure in the West Bank.

Israeli officials have said the goal of the military campaign is to restore quiet to Israel's south, which has absorbed hundreds of rocket strikes, and that any cease-fire would have to include guarantees of an extended period of calm.

Hamas officials say they will not accept "calm for calm." The group is demanding an easing of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has ground Gaza's economy to a standstill and that Israel release dozens of prisoners who were arrested in a recent West Bank crackdown following the abductions of the Israeli youths.

With the death toll mounting, both sides have come under increasing international pressure to halt the fighting.

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Tue, 15 Jul 2014 06:38:31 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15609-egypt-proposes-cease-fire-between-israel-hamas
96 Insurgents Join Baghlan Peace Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15608-96-insurgents-join-baghlan-peace-process alt

About 96 insurgents surrendered their weapons in northern Baghlan province Monday and joined the government peace process, local officials said.

Jawid Basharat, a spokesman for the provincial police chief said the insurgents gave up their weapons in Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of the province.

He believes the collaboration of the insurgents in the peace process will improve the security of the province.

The insurgents have recently escalated their activities in the country as foreign troops withdraw Afghanistan by the end of 2014 after full hand over of security responsibility to Afghans.

There are about 50,000 foreign troops still based in Afghanistan, while there are roughly 350,000 active members of the Afghan security forces.

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Tue, 15 Jul 2014 06:03:58 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15608-96-insurgents-join-baghlan-peace-process
TAKANI: The National Unity Government http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15607-takani-the-national-unity-government alt

In this episode of Takani 93, host Zabi Sadaat discusses the formation of a national unity government with the following guests:

• Ghafoor Lewal, Director of Afghanistan's Regional Studies Centre
• Naqibullah Fayeq, MP
• Lailuma Ahmadi, senator

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}Vf57E84_hgE{/youtube}

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Tue, 15 Jul 2014 05:31:11 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15607-takani-the-national-unity-government
Blast Kills 2 Employees of Presidential Palace in Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15606-blast-kills-2-employees-of-presidential-palace-in-kabul alt

At two employees of the presidential palace were killed and five others were injured in a roadside mine blast east of Kabul City early Tuesday, security officials said.

The blast took place around 7 a.m. in district 12 ‎after a controlled roadside mine detonated while the Presidential Palace employees were passing the area, said Gen. Zahir Zahir, Kabul Police Chief.

The District 12 Police Chief, Sayed Gul Agha Hashimi, also confirmed the blast and said one of the employees injured is in critical condition.

He added that the police have started investigations.

Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

To watch the footage, click here:

{youtube} Mqmq-NOGbic{/youtube}

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Tue, 15 Jul 2014 03:57:36 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15606-blast-kills-2-employees-of-presidential-palace-in-kabul
TOLOnews 6 pm News 14 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15605-tolonews-6-pm-news-14-july-2014 alt

The comprehensive vote auditing process agreed to by the two presidential candidates as part of a deal to get the election process back on track was set to begin on Tuesday. However, the Chairman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani, has reported that the vote auditing will not start on time.

"The planning for vote auditing started yesterday, but the process will be initiated physically in a few days," said election commission spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor on Monday.

{youtube}4i4BID4_iXI{/youtube}

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 15:49:40 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15605-tolonews-6-pm-news-14-july-2014
Vote Auditing Delayed, Still Expected to Comply With UN Vision http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15604-vote-auditing-delayed-still-expected-to-comply-with-un-vision alt

The comprehensive vote auditing process agreed to by the two presidential candidates as part of a deal to get the election process back on track was set to begin on Tuesday. However, the Chairman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani, has reported that the vote auditing will not start on time.

"The planning for vote auditing started yesterday, but the process will be initiated physically in a few days," said election commission spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor on Monday.

No further results will be announced until the vote auditing process is completed, according to the deal made between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai with the help of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry late last week. Meaning, the audit will now take center stage as the focal point of the election process.

The United Nations is expected to be closely involved in the audit, and its branch in Afghanistan has provided a rundown of what the audit will look like based on Afghan law, the terms of the agreement made between the candidates and the UN's recommendations.

The UN has explained the vote auditing process as so:

• Based on the agreements between the two candidates, 100 percent of votes will be audited, amounting to 8,000,000 votes from 23,000 polling sites.

• ISAF is responsible for transferring all ballot boxes from the provinces to Kabul for auditing and they will be stored and secured in hangers at Kabul International Airport by ISAF and the Afghan security forces

• International observers will oversee the auditing process in a manner that was recommended by the UN and in consultation with the candidates.

• The two campaign teams will oversee the auditing process in a manner which was recommended by the UN and representatives of the candidates will be allowed to have access to ballot boxes under the supervision of ISAF and the Afghan security forces.

• The vote auditing process will be conducted in accordance to UN recommendations based on international standards as well as the IEC's checklist.

• The election commission will provide an explanation about the difference in participation numbers from first round to second round, and from the runoff election day to the announcement of preliminary results before the auditing comes to an end.

• A new IEC Secretariat Chief will be selected with the approval of the two candidates

The UN has made the following recommendations for the audit process:

• Based on the UN vote auditing method, the vote auditing should be conducted in the presence of domestic and international observers, representatives of media outlets, observers and media.

• Any questions regarding the audit that are now put to rest will be referred to the UN

• Auditing will be conducted on the basis of the IEC checklist, but augmented by UN recommendations

• Result sheets should be compared with the results registered in the IEC database

• All suspicious sheets and sheets referred to by complaints should be audited

• Result sheets marked with a single pen should be audited and for all sites where the number of votes registered increased dramatically from the first round

Both Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani have emphasized that the auditing should begin as soon as possible and have stressed that if the election commission conducts the auditing according to the UN's plan, the results would be credible.

"We have offered a number of recommendations to the UN and the commissions, if the commissions act upon these recommendations, the results would be acceptable," Fazel Ahmad Manavi, a technical member of Abdullah's campaign team said.

"Once the process start, there shouldn't be delays and there shouldn't be a break in the process," a member of Ashraf Ghani's camp named Azita Raffat said.

The IEC has said it has put together 100 two-person teams for the vote auditing process and that each team will have one assistant.

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 14:42:06 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15604-vote-auditing-delayed-still-expected-to-comply-with-un-vision
General Sessions Skipped Due to Lack of Agenda http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15603-general-sessions-skipped-due-to-lack-of-agenda alt

A number of MPs on Monday accused the Administrative Board of the House of Representatives of failing to meet its duties, claiming that the board often does not select an agenda for general sessions, which, most recently, was said to have caused the sessions to be skipped all together.

According to the Internal Duties' Principles of the Lower House, the house holds general sessions on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, and the agendas of the sessions are selected by the Committee chairmans.

On Monday, however, without an agenda, MPs did not hold their general session.

"The administrative board does not want to safeguard the position and honor of the house, which is regretful," one lawmaker named Ghulam Farooq Majroh said.

"During such sensitive times, there are so many agenda items like insecurities, burning of civilians' oil tankers and high rates to be discussed in the house," MP Habiba Danesh said. "The house learned that the officials of the sectoral and security ministries have gone to the United Arab Emirates and Haj, so this is the weakness of the administrative board," she added.

Meanwhile, Administrative Board of the Lower House said the committee chairmen decided not to select an agenda for Monday's session, instructing MPs to discuss law drafts within their committees instead.

"We dedicated time to hold meetings inside committees, therefore, when the committees talked and processed the draft legislation, then the laws will go to the general sessions for approval," Second Deputy Speaker Saleh Mohammad Saljoqi explained.

Nevertheless, many within the Lower House feel the reoccurring absence of an agenda for general sessions and the frequent absences of MPs are part a parcel of the bigger picture in which their congressional chamber is bedeviled by inefficiencies and unprofessionalism.

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:59:38 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15603-general-sessions-skipped-due-to-lack-of-agenda
Impasse Ends, But Campaign Teams Differ on Terms of Agreement http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15602-impasse-ends-but-campaign-teams-differ-on-terms-of-agreement alt

When the two presidential candidates came together late last week and agreed to form a "national unity government" once a comprehensive vote auditing process finished, it was celebrated as the end to the election crisis. However, while the process maybe moving forward with both men on board once again, recent statements from the camps suggest there maybe differences in interpretations of the terms of their agreement.

Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah's First Vice President Mohammad Khan has said that part of the agreement for a national unity government was that the losing candidate would work as chief executive of the government for two years and then would be designated prime minister by a Loya Jirga.

"Both teams have agreed on the formation of a coalition government on the basis of which the losing candidate will serve as chief executive of the government for a two year term, then, there would be a constitutional amendment and it will change the executive post to premiership," Mohammad Khan said.

However, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's running mate, Sarwar Danish, has expressed different views on the subject. Other than speaking from the perspective of the winning team, which differed from Khan, Danish said it would be "wrong" to think the winner should be president and the loser chief executive.

"Any winning team must consider national unity, and the structure of comprises in some areas that need to be agreed upon in the future," Danish said. "I think the perception that the winner should be the president or the loser chief executive is a wrong and extrajudicial perception."

Abdullah's camp has said that discussions over all aspects of the agreements have been completed and soon the two candidates will sign the accord in writing in the presence of representatives from the United Nations before the vote audit is completed.

"Negotiations have been completed over the details and items of the agreement, and the two candidates will sign the agreement in the presence of the UN envoy before the vote auditing process is completed," Mohammad Khan said.

Yet, again, Ghani's team differed on the matter, indicating they still believe there are things to be discussed between the two sides before any kind of written agreement is made.

"Agreements have been made on the formation of a national unity government, but discussions continue on aspects and so far there hasn't been any kind of written agreement," Danish said.

Still, the response to news of the agreement for a "national unity government", however un-defined or un-finalized it may be, has been received overwhelmingly well by the Afghan public and its leaders. Most are simply happy that the tensions that were mounting by the day as the candidates faced-off in a stalemate have seemingly subsided.

"It doesn't make any difference what channel national unity comes through, whether it is Abdullah's or Ashraf Ghani's team," said Massould Khalili, the Afghan Ambassador to Spain. "It could be a guarantee and a great support that Afghanistan will not go toward crisis and the achievements of the last 14 years won't be destroyed."

If there is an agreement to change the Afghan governing system, which would be required if either side expects there to be a Prime Minister position anytime soon, there would then technically need to be a Loya Jirga. Abdullah's team has maintained that after two years and district council elections, the quorum for a Loya Jirga would be legally established.

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:49:31 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15602-impasse-ends-but-campaign-teams-differ-on-terms-of-agreement
Public Satisfied on Candidates Agreement http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15601-public-satisfied-on-candidates-agreement alt

The people of Afghanistan have expressed their satisfaction over the recent agreement made between the presidential candidates in resolution to the electoral impasse.

The citizens have demonstrated their frustration of the endless violence and bloodshed in the country that they are prepared to support the move toward peace restoration and reconciliation.

The formation of a "national unity government" is seen to many as a great opportunity to remove discrepancies within society and bring people together.

A number of analysts stress that the public and political institutions feel themselves a part of the political power when a national unity government develops leaving no room for facades and rebellious acts.

"Power sharing has been one of the biggest challenges in Afghanistan over the last three decades, because a group of people felt as if they were sidelined, so the formation of a national unity government could be a good response in resolving such challenges, because people will feel as a part of the political power and this could be a good opportunity to country's development and growth," university lecturer Faramarz Tamana said.

The crack on the electoral stalemate has also helped the business sector of the country as markets boomed, increasing the public's trust in the future of Afghanistan. People now want the presidential candidates to join hands and work together for peace restoration, security and development of the country.

"We are happy over the integration of the candidates, we are happy that our country was saved from crisis and that both candidates reached an agreement," a resident from Mazar-e-Sharif said.

"Now, they [candidates] must join hands and work together for the prosperity of the country, it is a positive move that the candidates agreed because people were concerned about the situation," a resident from eastern Nangarhar province said.

But, disparate views amongst the electoral campaigns still remain a matter of concern to the general public as fear still exists within these elements as it could lead to disagreements inside the government.

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:11:38 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15601-public-satisfied-on-candidates-agreement
Citizens Distressed of Fuel Price Hike http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/15600-citizens-distressed-of-fuel-price-hike alt

A recent wave of inflation on fuel has left citizens of Afghanistan, particularly Kabul, distressed. Residents of Kabul said that one kilogram of liquid gas is now sold for 75 AFS and a liter of petrol is now sold for 67 AFS, whereas before the spike a kilogram of gas was sold for 55 AFS and a liter of petrol for 64 AFS.

For the first time, the oil and gas businesses have disclosed the names of the oil and gas importing companies who are involved in the price hike.

According to the head of the Fuel and Liquid Gas Enterprise (FLGE), a number of traders have purchased liquid gas at a higher price from foreign countries and have resorted to hoarding, resulting in the price boom of fuel in the country. He added that the dealers pay $200 extra on each ton of liquid gas.

"Noor Sadiq Ansari Company, Afghan Petrol, Rahmanian Company, Ghazanfar Fuel Company, Fawad Fuel Company, Younas Company and Haidari Brothers company are among the corporations that have committed detrimental business in Turkmenistan and have received warnings from the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MOCI)," Faridullah Sherzai, head of FLGE, said.

Sherzai claims that normally general dealers are the ones engaged in the price hike rather than the wholesalers. Gas wholesalers have said that they always ask their consumers not to sell the gas at higher prices; despite the request violations are committed.

"We sell up to seven to eight tons of gas to wholesalers on a daily basis and ask them not to sell gas at 75 AFS while we provide gas for 54 AFS, they must sell gas at 60 AFG per kilogram," said Zabilluah, the head of the marketing department for a gas company.

"The general directorates of FLGE and attorney general have dispatched a delegation to the port provinces of Balkh and Herat waiting for the outcomes of their investigations," chairman of Kabul Appellate Court Syed Sharif said.

The FLGE on Monday sealed a number of shops that violated the regulation on prices. The coming days will prove whether the closure of these shops will solve the issue of hoarding and monopolizing because in the past, such actions created a backwards impact.

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 11:30:35 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/15600-citizens-distressed-of-fuel-price-hike
FARAKHABAR: 14 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15599-farakhabar-14-july-2014 alt

The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's trip to Kabul to mediate talks between the two presidential candidates ended the election deadlock. After all, one of the agreements made between the two presidential hopefuls is that a national unity government would be formed between them no matter who wins the election.

Mohammad Mohaqiq, second vice president for Abdullah Abdullah, said according to the agreement the executive director post will change to prime minister in two years.

Both candidates have agreed for investigation of 100 percent votes.

In this episode of Farakhabar host, Yama Siawish discusses the topic with Abdul Ali Mohammadi, member of Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's team and Ali Amiri, member of Abdullah Abdullah's team.

{youtube}F_SrkB_pkyA{/youtube}

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 11:01:32 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15599-farakhabar-14-july-2014
Helmand Police Chief Dismissed Over Sangin Attacks http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15598-helmand-police-chief-dismissed-over-sangin-attacks alt

On Monday, local officials said southern Helmand's Police Chief, Abdul Qayoum Baqizoy, was dismissed because of the continuing clashes in Sangin district of the province.

The security officials have not commented about the dismissal, but have appointed Juma Gul Hemat as the new police chief of Helmand.

The reports state that Baqizoy was dismissed after the Taliban insurgents attacked Sangin district.

Two weeks ago, more than 800 Taliban insurgents attacked Sangin district and took control of the area for more than a week. The clash ended when an increase of troops were deployed in efforts of the clearing operation.

The clash claimed the lives civilians, Afghan forces and Taliban insurgents.

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 09:16:30 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15598-helmand-police-chief-dismissed-over-sangin-attacks
Taliban Insurgents Killed in Afghan Operation http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15597-taliban-insurgents-killed-in-afghan-operation alt

At least 21 Taliban militants were killed and 15 others injured during an Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) operation in the past 24 hours across the country, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said in a statement on Sunday.

Fifteen other insurgents were arrested.

The statement said: "Within the past 24 hours, Afghan army, police and intelligence agency carried out several operations in Balkh, Ghazni, Paktika, Farah and Helmand provinces to rid the area of insurgents."

The operation was launched to clear the insurgents from the areas, the statement read.

The Afghan forces have also seized weapons during the raids, it added.

However, the statement did not provide details about the number of Afghan forces casualties.

The Taliban insurgents have not yet commented about the operations.

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 05:29:52 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15597-taliban-insurgents-killed-in-afghan-operation
Five-Year-Old Boy Dies After Rape in Herat http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15596-five-year-old-boy-dies-after-rape-in-herat alt

On Monday, local officials in western Herat province said a five-year-old boy was raped on Sunday and died at the hospital where he was being cared for.

The incident took place in Herat city and according to the spokesman for the provincial governor, Abdul Rauf Ahmadi, two suspects have been arrested.

The victim's family declares that punishment and justice be served for those involved in the rape case.

The police have begun investigating the case.

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 05:02:20 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15596-five-year-old-boy-dies-after-rape-in-herat
Germany Win World Cup, Beat Argentina 1-0 in Extra-Time http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/15595-germany-win-world-cup-beat-argentina-1-0-in-extra-time alt

Mario Goetze scored a superb extra-time winner as Germany beat Argentina 1-0 to become the first European team to win a World Cup held in South America on Sunday, July 13, 2014.

Bayern Munich star Goetze struck in the 113th minute to finally break Argentina's resistance as Lionel Messi's dream of emulating Diego Maradona ended in defeat.

The decisive moment of a World Cup brimming with wonderful goals came with penalties looming in front of 74,738 fans at Rio de Janeiro's famous Maracana Stadium.

Andre Schuerrle burst clear down the left flank and crossed for Goetze.

The 22-year-old took the ball on his chest and then volleyed past Sergio Romero to spark delirium among the largely pro-German crowd.

Argentina and Messi were left squandering a handful of gilt-edged chances, including one that fell to Messi in the second half.

Messi was largely anonymous for most of the evening and his miserable evening was summed up when a late free-kick to equalise sailed over the bar.

The victory was celebrated raucously by Brazilians in the crowd, who had dreaded the prospect of sworn South American rivals Argentina lifting the title in their backyard.

An absorbing first half saw Germany forced into a reshuffle moments before kick-off with inexperienced Christoph Kramer replacing Sami Khedira after the Real Madrid star injured a calf in the warm up.

With Bastian Schweinsteiger running midfield the Germans laid siege to Argentinian territory, passing smoothly and denying Messi a route into the game.
Yet for all Germany's early dominance they created little in the way of clear chances.

And it was Argentina who were presented with a glorious chance to open the scoring.

Toni Kroos misdirected a header back to Manuel Neuer to send Gonzalo Higuain racing through on goal.

But with only Neuer to beat the Napoli striker dragged his shot wide to disbelief from fans and team-mates.

Germany continued to probe for openings, and a Philipp Lahm pass almost put Thomas Mueller clear.

The pace of Argentina on the counter-attack continued to unsettle Germany however.

Schweinsteiger picked up a yellow card for bringing down Ezequiel Lavezzi just after the half hour mark.

Moments later, Argentina had the ball in the net only to see the goal disallowed for offside.

Messi released Lavezzi down the right who swept in a low cross for Higuain to drill his finish pass Neuer before wheeling away in delight.

Higuain's roar of celebration was cut short however after Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli whistled, correctly, for offside.

Germany's personnel problems deepened when Khedira's replacement Kramer himself limped off, prompting the introduction of Andre Schuerrle.

The Germans remained unfazed by the setback however, and quickly set about reimposing their control of the game.

Schuerrle drew a fine near-post save from Romero on 37 minutes with a rasping shot after Mueller's cutback.

But the latent threat of Messi meant Germany could never entirely relax.

Messi burst away down the right and raced into the box, toe-poked past Neuer only for Jerome Boateng to clear.

On the stroke of half-time Benedikt Hoewedes came within inches of scoring, crashing a header from a Kroos corner against the post.

The second half followed a similar pattern, Germany controlling possession but Argentina often threatening on the break.

Messi squandered another golden Argentinian chance two minutes after the restart, latching onto a pass from Lucas Biglia but scuffing his shot wide of Neuer.

The hard-fought nature of the contest led to a flurry of cards from referee Rizzoli, who cautioned Javier Mascherano and Sergio Aguero in quick succession for fouls on Miroslav Klose and Schweinsteiger.

The remainder of the half saw neither stride able to get on top.

Germany controlled possession without really testing Romero, while Argentina were unable to pass a German defence superbly marshalled by Mats Hummels and Boateng.

Schuerrle came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first period of extra-time, forcing Romero into a desperate block.

Penalties looked to be the likeliest outcome, but Goetze had other ideas.

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 04:17:38 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/15595-germany-win-world-cup-beat-argentina-1-0-in-extra-time
TAKANI: 2014: Kerry's Trip to Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15594-takani-2014-kerrys-trip-to-kabul alt

In this episode of Takani 93, host Shapoor Bakhtyar discusses the result of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's trip to Kabul for election talks with following guests:

• Rahim Furmoli, member of Abdullah Abdullah's team
• Sediq Patman, member of Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's team
• Younus Fakoor, political analyst

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}FA55PfnJa-4{/youtube}

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 03:53:19 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15594-takani-2014-kerrys-trip-to-kabul
ELECTION 2014: Kerry's Trip to Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15593-election-2014-kerrys-trip-to-kabul alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Omid Farooq discusses the result of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's trip to Kabul for election talks with following guests:

• Muslim Sadat, member of Abdullah Abdullah's team
• Asadullah Sadati, member of Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's team
• Daoud Muradian, Daoud Muradian, head of the Afghan Institute of Strategic Studies

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}UvLYT-vPfeg{/youtube}

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Mon, 14 Jul 2014 03:31:55 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15593-election-2014-kerrys-trip-to-kabul
TOLOnews 6 pm News 13 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15591-tolonews-6-pm-news-13-july-2014 alt

Former Chairman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), Fazl Ahmad Manawi, said on Sunday that the auditing process will be in the presence of the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), other international observers, and candidates' agents and electoral commissions' monitors.

Manawi added that although the audits of ballots are decided on the basis of international standards, it is still not clear whether or not the same 17 methods used in 2009 will be used in this year's auditing.

{youtube}DyZa3onbk_s{/youtube}

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Sun, 13 Jul 2014 15:28:06 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15591-tolonews-6-pm-news-13-july-2014
Afghans Welcome Agreement Between Candidates http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15590-afghans-welcome-agreement-between-candidates alt

The Afghan public has responded positively to the recent agreement between the two presidential candidates to form a "national unity government" and conduct a comprehensive vote audit, ending the nearly month-long stalemate that threatened to derail this year's political transition.

With the end of the deadlock that was raising tensions between political and ethnic factions around the country, Afghans have praised the agreement of the candidates, which came following a series of meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Many Afghans risked their lives to vote in April and June, and they did so to bring about constructive democratic change in their country. That outcome is now possible again with the election process back on track.

At a gathering in Ghor province, a number of residents gathered to show their appreciation of the reconciliation between the candidates.

"I am very happy that the candidates have agreed and it might improve the conditions in Afghanistan," one resident named Mesbah told TOLOnews on Sunday.

"The agreement between the two candidates is very good, because we voted at the cost of our blood, and if they had not agreed, we would have been worried," a Khost resident named Abdul Wali said.

The United Nations (UN) and U.S. government were both heavily involved in bringing the election crisis to an end. Mr. Kerry played a similar role in ending the deadlock as to the one he did back in 2009, ending the standoff between President Hamid Karzai and his opponent at the time, Abdullah Abdullah.

"I am very happy that the candidates have joined together to serve the people, the people are happy," a Kabul resident named Abdullah said.

"It doesn't matter who will win among the two, the well-being of the nation is important for us," said Samim, a resident of Nangarhar province.

Civil society activists also applauded the agreement between the candidates, expressing hope that the credibility of election process would be renewed. However, the fact foreign intervention was required to get it done was lamented.

"We were hopeful that we Afghans might have reached the political maturity to solve the issue ourselves, but unfortunately we couldn't," civil society activist Mir Ahmad Joyenda said. "I am sure that the commitment that was made in the presence of media and senior officials shows that they will implement what they said."

On social media, where the couple months have seen noxious debate and ominous threat exchanges between partisans of the two candidates, were suddenly overcome after the agreement was announced with a wave of conversations focused on solidarity and national unity.

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Sun, 13 Jul 2014 14:29:26 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15590-afghans-welcome-agreement-between-candidates
International Observers to Audit Ballot Boxes http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15589-international-observers-to-audit-ballot-boxes alt

Ballot boxes from the provinces will be transferred to Kabul to the Independent Election Commission (IEC) storage soon under the operations of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai, and the IEC welcome the transfer under the process of ISAF as well as the audits being completed by international auditors.
In a press release, ISAF stated that they are working in cooperation with the security and election officials to ensure the safety of the transfer and storage of the ballot boxes. According to the IEC, the audits will be conducted by international monitors on IEC premises.

"In general, the IEC had announced in the past that we are cooperative at any level," said IEC Commissioner Sarir Ahmad Barmak. "We will cooperate for completion of the process with the United Nation (UN) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) in the audits of the ballot boxes."

The ECC has said to cooperate in the transfer of boxes and to have their observers in attendance during the audits.

"As per procedure, we will observe the process of the transfer of ballots from the provinces to Kabul and will also have our representatives present during the audits," said Nader Mohseni, IEC Spokesman.

Electoral teams of Abdullah and Ghani-Ahmadzai also welcome the transfer of ballot boxes under the direction of ISAF and its audits by international auditors.

"Based on some of the observations that the Reform and Integration Team had in regards to the commissions, the process will be audited by international observers and the ballot boxes will be transferred by ISAF instead of ANSF, which might follow some critics" says Abdul Ali Muhammadi, member of Ghani-Ahmadzai camp.

"The idea of ISAF transferring ballot boxes to Kabul is great news to the people of Afghanistan," said a member of Abdullah's camp, Muslim Saadat. "Based on the mechanism that both candidates have agreed on with the UN, all the votes will be audited, separating clean from fraudulent votes."

Ghani-Ahmadzai and Abdullah's teams emphasize that the audits of all ballot boxes by the national and international observers will be beneficial and will make the election process more credible to the people of Afghanistan.

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Sun, 13 Jul 2014 14:07:51 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15589-international-observers-to-audit-ballot-boxes
International Standards to Help Guide Vote Audit http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15588-international-standards-to-help-guide-vote-audit- alt

With the agreement between presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai now made, the criteria to be used for the comprehensive vote audit they approved has come into focus. The United Nations (UN) and others close to the matter have indicated both Afghan and international standards will be applied to the inspections.

Former Chairman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), Fazl Ahmad Manawi, said on Sunday that the auditing process will be conducted in the presence of the UN, European Union (EU), other international observers and representatives of the candidates.

However, Manawi said it remains unclear whether or not the same 17 methods used in 2009 will be used in this year's auditing.

"International standards of auditing are clear because we've used the procedure in 2009," Manawi said. "The views of the international community, particularly UNAMA and EU's technical teams, will be involved in the audit process."

Ghani-Ahmadzai team emphasized that most of the criteria being used in the audit would be coming from the Afghan law. "Most of the criteria for auditing written in the election law will be used," Ghani team member Abass Noyan said.

However, based on a statement released by UNAMA on Sunday, the framework for the audit that the candidates agreed on and the UN's recommendations for the process indicate international standards and technical assistance will play a major role.

According to UNAMA, the candidates agreed to abide by the results of an audit that reviews 100 percent of ballots, totaling about 8.1 million votes.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will be involved in transporting ballot boxes from the provinces to Kabul, and will secure them in the capital with the help of the Afghan security forces. The auditing of ballot boxes already in Kabul will begin within 24 hours of the agreement between the candidates, and the contenders will be allowed access to the boxes under supervision by ISAF and the Afghan security forces.

Then, the review process itself, will be "conducted in accordance with best international standards, utilizing an IEC checklist supplemented by UN recommendations," the statement says. And before the audit is over, the IEC is expected to provide an explanation regarding the "discrepancy between turn-out numbers announced on election day (and subsequently), and those announced as part of the preliminary results on 7 July."

According to the statement, a new Chief Executive Officer for the IEC will also be appointed with approval of both candidates. The CEO position was left vacant after the resignation of Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail amidst allegations of fraud over three weeks ago.

Based on the statement, it is clear the IEC will be under heavy scrutiny during the audit, with international and domestic observers, candidate agents, the media and UN all present for the full duration of the process. Observers and the candidates will have the right to sign-off on the auditing or dispute it.

The UN's recommendations for the audit will "enhance" the IEC's checklist, according to UNAMA, suggesting their inclusion is not up for debate.

The statement says those audit-specific recommendations based on international practices include the following: ballots which are obviously similarly marked; evidence of tampering with the results sheet and coherence with the number ballots in the box; comparison of the results sheet copy with that processed in the national tally centre; review of information on the polling station journal and list of voters; and ballot boxes will receive particular attention from international and domestic observers and agents when they register results that, according to best international practices, require special scrutiny (e.g. when there are significant differences between first and second round tallies).

Since the announcement of the agreement between the candidates, which was praised by the public for bringing the election crisis to an ostensible end, the election commissions have welcomed plans for the audit.

"We are full ready to cooperate with the UN in the process and will provide a place for auditing as well," IEC member Mohammad Aziz Bakhtiari said on Sunday. "The IEC's central office has big storage space that is ready as well."

"We welcome any decision that will make the process more credible and transparent and we are ready to oblige," said Nader Mohseni, the Electoral Complaints Commission Secretariat Chief.

According to officials, the duration of the auditing process will be clarified once the exact methodology for it is finalized.

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Sun, 13 Jul 2014 14:05:46 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15588-international-standards-to-help-guide-vote-audit-
After Talks, Differences Arise Over Meaning of 'National Unity Government' http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15587-after-talks-differences-arise-over-meaning-of-national-unity-government alt

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's trip to Kabul to mediate talks between the two presidential candidates ended the election deadlock. After all, one of the agreements made between the two presidential hopefuls is that a national unity government would be formed between them no matter who wins the election. However, just a day removed from the talks, there already appears to be some disagreement over what exactly a "national unity government" means.

Abdullah Abdullah's campaign team has said that a national unity government means a shared government where both candidates will have a prominent role.

"National unity government can be called shared government, our campaign team will never want the creation of a coalition government, but we will accept shared government," Abdullah's campaign spokesman Said Fazel Agha Sancharaki said. He did not go into any detail as to what are the exact distinctions between a "coalition government" and a "shared government".

In response, Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's campaign team has said that the national unity government means that the losing candidates will participate legally in the framework of the future government.

"The candidate who has not received the majority of votes can participate in the upcoming government through legal ways," explained Azita Refat, the spokesman for Ghani-Ahmadzai's team.

Sources close to the negotiations that took place over the course of Friday and Saturday, and have been heralded as successfully ending the election crisis, have said that the audit of votes that the candidates agreed to will surely result in the victory of one candidate over the other, and that the losing candidate will have a role in the next government, likely in the executive branch. However that has not yet been officialy confirmed.

Meanwhile, legal analysts have said that the creation of a national unity government does in fact amount to a coalition government.

"I think we have had national unity before, I do not see any difference between a coalition government and what the candidates have called a national unity government," legal analyst Nasrullah Stanekzai told TOLOnews. "If they had used the term, 'Creation of government for National Unity Consolidation' instead of 'Creation of National Unity Government', it would have been better," he added.

Despite the apparent differences in interpretation of the terms of their agreement regarding power-sharing after the election, it is indisputable that the negotiations this weekend, is no small part thanks to the presence of Mr. Kerry, moved the process forward, and hopefully for the better.

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Sun, 13 Jul 2014 14:05:00 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/15587-after-talks-differences-arise-over-meaning-of-national-unity-government
FARAKHABAR: 13 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15586-farakhabar-13-july-2014 alt

The Afghan election stalemate has come to an end with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry mediating a 48-hour negotiation between the two candidates and brokering a deal to audit all 8.1 million votes cast on June 14 runoff.

Addressing a joint press conference at the United Nations (UN) office in Kabul on Saturday evening, Secretary Kerry, presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai said they have reached both a technical and political deal.

Kerry said that both candidates have reached a common ground in negotiations saying that "both are determined that the votes of the people of Afghanistan are counted."

Mr. Kerry was also asked President Hamid Karzai to delay the inauguration and said both candidates agreed for formation of a national unified government.

But why wasn't the electoral deadlock broken before Kerry's arrival in Kabul?

In this episode of Farakhabar host, Yama Siawish discusses the topic with Ahmad Wali Massoud, the head of Ahmad Shah Massoud Foundation.

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Sun, 13 Jul 2014 11:49:21 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15586-farakhabar-13-july-2014
Three NATO Soldiers Injured in Nangarhar Suicide Attack http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15585-three-nato-soldiers-injured-in-nangarhar-suicide-attack alt

Three NATO troops have been injured in a suicide car bombing targeting their convoy in eastern Nangarhar province on Saturday night, local officials said.

Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the Governor of Nangarhar province, says the attack happened last night in Behsod district after the suicide car bomber targeted a patrol of foreign troops.

There were no civilian and Afghan forces casualties in the attack.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

The insurgents have recently escalated their activities in the country as foreign troops withdraw Afghanistan by the end of 2014 after full hand over of security responsibility to Afghans.

There around 50,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan.

A small number of foreign troops will remain post 2014 to train the Afghan security forces.

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Sun, 13 Jul 2014 07:20:41 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15585-three-nato-soldiers-injured-in-nangarhar-suicide-attack
15 Taliban, 10 Afghan forces Killed in Clashes http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15584-15-taliban-10-afghan-forces-killed-in-clashes alt

At least 15 Taliban insurgents and 10 Afghan security forces were killed in separate incidents in the past 24 hours in eastern Laghman and western Herat provinces, local officials said.

Eight other insurgents and four security forces were injured in the attacks.

The Taliban insurgents attacked several Afghan police and soldier check posts in Alingar district of eastern Laghman province, killing seven security forces and injuring four others, read the governor's office in a statement.

"Fifteen Taliban insurgents including three suicide bombers and a Taliban leader, Zalmai, were also killed during the clashes," the statement read.

This comes as, three police were killed by a Taliban insurgent in Shindand district of Herat province on Saturday, local officials said.

The incident took place after insurgents entered a police check post in Shindand and took the weapons of the police and killed the policeman using a knife.

More than 100 policemen were killed in the past six months in the province, according to Herat Governor, Sayed Fazullah Wahidi.

However, the Taliban insurgents have not yet commented about the incidents.

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Sun, 13 Jul 2014 05:53:12 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15584-15-taliban-10-afghan-forces-killed-in-clashes
UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Ceasefire http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15583-un-security-council-calls-for-gaza-ceasefire alt

The UN Security Council urged Israel and Hamas on Saturday to end their hostilities in Gaza, calling on both sides to respect "international humanitarian laws" and stop the loss of life.

In a unanimous declaration, the 15-member council called for a de-escalation of the crisis that has claimed well over a hundred lives, and urged a return to the "calm and restitution of the November 2012 ceasefire."

The council expressed "serious concern" over the "protection and welfare of civilians on both sides."

It also called for a return to the negotiating table by Israelis and Palestinians "with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on the two-state solution."

The council issued its declaration amid news that eight more Palestinians were killed in a series of Israeli raids in the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Those attacks raised to 135 the number of Palestinians that medics said have been killed since hostilities flared.

Gaza officials said nearly 950 people have been wounded in the strikes.

Israel began its bombing, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, on Tuesday in an attempt to halt cross-border rocket fire by militant groups.

Gaza militants, meanwhile, have fired approximately 525 mortar rounds and rockets that struck Israel, but with no loss of life.

Israeli military officials say another 138 rockets have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system.

Israel has authorised the call-up of 40,000 reservists, and is threatening to initiate a ground operation.

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Sun, 13 Jul 2014 05:40:31 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/15583-un-security-council-calls-for-gaza-ceasefire
TAKANI: The Election Talks http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15582-takani-the-election-talks alt

In this episode of Takani, host Shapoor Bakhtyar discusses the recent meeting between the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and presidential candidates with the following guests:

• Khalid Pashtoon, member of Abdullah Abdullah's team
• Ahmad Shah Afghanzai, member of Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's team
• Nasrullah Sadiqizada Neli, MP
• Abdul Rahim Ayoubi, MP

To watch the whole program, click here:

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Sun, 13 Jul 2014 04:22:55 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/15582-takani-the-election-talks
ELECTION 2014: Kerry's Talks With Presidential Candidates http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15581-election-2014-kerrys-talks-with-presidential-candidates alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Omid Farooq discusses the result of talks with the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's with the presidential candidates.

Guests:

• Toofan Waziri, member of Abdullah Abdullah's team
• Abdul Ali Mohammadi, member of Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's team
• Masoud Toresthwal, professor at the Kabul University
• Zakir Hussian Ershad, professor at the Kabul University

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}vdknYokuUfM{/youtube}

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Sun, 13 Jul 2014 04:15:01 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/15581-election-2014-kerrys-talks-with-presidential-candidates
FARAKHABAR: 12 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15580-farakhabar-12-july-2014 alt

After the 2009 election, yet again the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came to Afghanistan to solve yet another election crisis.

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}xsOKUcTY5sc{/youtube}

John Kerry arrived in Afghanistan early Friday morning and met with President Hamid Karzai and presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai.

Can Mr. Kerry end the election tensions?

In this episode of Farakhabar host, Yama Siawish discusses the topic with Sardar Mohammad Rahman Oghli, member of Abdullah's team and Moean Marastyal, member of Ashraf Ghani's team.

 

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Sun, 13 Jul 2014 04:11:18 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/15580-farakhabar-12-july-2014
Afghan Electoral Deadlock Broken http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15579-afghan-electoral-deadlock-broken alt

The Afghan election stalemate has come to an end with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry mediating a 48-hour negotiation between the two candidates and brokering a deal to audit all 8.1 million votes cast on June 14 runoff.

Addressing a joint press conference at the United Nations (UN) office in Kabul on Saturday evening, Secretary Kerry, presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai said they have reached both a technical and political deal.

Kerry said that both candidates have reached a common ground in negotiations saying that "both are determined that the votes of the people of Afghanistan are counted."

Secretary Kerry arrived in Kabul on Friday morning after Abdullah suspended his ties with the electoral commissions and vowed to establish a parallel government.

The agreements, reached after almost two days of consistent talks, include a Kabul-based and UN monitored audit of all votes and a formation of a national unified government under the supervision of the winner immediately after the results are announced.

The audit is set to be carried out in the next 24 hours in Kabul. Ballot boxes from other provinces will be transferred by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the audits will be supervised by the UN and the candidates' agents.

"We anticipate this process will take a number of weeks, so we and UNAMA have asked President Hamid Karzai and the elections commissions to postpone the inauguration," Kerry said. "Both candidates have agreed to abide by the results of the audit."

Head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš, had sent out a letter to the president emphasizing that the audit will take a considerable amount of time to conduct in which he requests,on behalf of the two candidates, that the inauguration for the new President of Afghanistan be delayed by roughly a month.

During his talk, Kerry added that the "Afghans want a democracy that works not for some, but for all."

At the end of Kerry's announcement, Abdullah Abdullah took to the stage thanking both the secretary and rival Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai. He went on to say and reiterate what Secretary Kerry emphasized, that the inauguration ceremony needs to be put off.

"We have a technical agreement and a framework of national unity," Abdullah said. "I would request President Karzai to delay the inauguration date."

The inauguration date was scheduled for August 2, in which Secretary Kerry, Abdullah and Ghani-Ahmadzai all asked the president to delay until 100 percent of the votes are completely audited.

"Our agreement is in the interest of the people," Abdullah announced. "Regardless of whom they cast their vote for."

Ghani-Ahmadzai, in resonance to his opponent and Secretary Kerry, asked the president to postpone the inauguration as he has committed for the thorough audits.

"Fraud has no place in our national culture and democracy," Ghani-Ahmadzai said. "Forming a government of national unity, should assure every Afghan, regardless of who they voted for, is committed to the well being of every Afghan. I request President Karzai to postpone the inauguration."

Ghani-Ahmadzai said that he and Abdullah will form a national unified government under the leadership of the winner.

Just as the joint press conference ended, Secretary of State and UNAMA Head made their way to the Presidential Palace for another media conference in reaction to Abdullah-Ghani agreements.

President Karzai opened the conference by confirming that concerns were raised about frauds in the runoff and how he and his vice-presidents tried to address the concerns.

"Dr. Abdullah invited the UN to mediate in the election and in order to avoid any misunderstanding, I and my vice-presidents stood away," Karzai said. "I phone Abdullah and Ghani whether both wanted the UN mediation and I accepted it once both confirmed it."

He did add that he wished "the election process to be Afghan-led and managed, but I accepted the UN mediation to resolve the issue."

In response to the requests made earlier by the two candidates, the Secretary of State and UNAMA of postponing the inauguration ceremony, Karzai accepted their stance.

"I accept the postponement of the initially planned August 2 inauguration until the audit is completed," Karzai announced. "I hope the audit takes place quickly."

President Karzai's agreement to remain in power for another couple of weeks after August 2 prevents a possible power vacuum in the country.

Kubiš, expressed his gratitude to the U.S. for their works in bringing the two candidates together and breaking the electoral stalemate.

"Both candidates showed true statesmanship, for a good future for Afghanistan," Kubiš said. "The UN is here to support and provide assistance to a unique and inclusive audit."

Kubiš thanked President Karzai for his leadership during the difficult time and praised Secretary Kerry's role in ending the deadlock.

"Afghanistan is blessed to have such a strong partner like the US and a friend like yourself," referring to Kerry, Kubiš said in his concluding remarks.

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Sat, 12 Jul 2014 19:28:19 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/15579-afghan-electoral-deadlock-broken
TOLOnews 6 pm News 12 July 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15578-tolonews-6-pm-news-12-july-2014 altTop News In this Bulliten:

During his visit to Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with top security officials in Kabul and took time to praise the efforts of the security forces in maintaining security for both rounds of the presidential election.

To watch the bulletin, click here:

{youtube}CkGbO-kKppM{/youtube}

Secretary Kerry, who was in Afghanistan to try to help resolve the election deadlock, also met with the National Security Advisor, Minister of Interior, Defense and other top security officials in addition to President Hamid Karzai.

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Sat, 12 Jul 2014 16:55:45 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/15578-tolonews-6-pm-news-12-july-2014