TOLOnews.com RSS Feed http://tolonews.com/ Sat, 19 Apr 2014 22:31:50 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) ECC in Herat Inspects Close to 1000 Ballot Boxes http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14590-ecc-in-herat-inspects-close-to-1000-ballot-boxes alt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sat, 19 Apr 2014 15:30:39 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14590-ecc-in-herat-inspects-close-to-1000-ballot-boxes
Recounting Continues In Balkh http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14589-recounting-continues-in-balkh alt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sat, 19 Apr 2014 15:03:38 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14589-recounting-continues-in-balkh
TOLOnews 6pm News 19 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14588-tolonews-6pm-news-19-april-2014 altTop news in this Bulletin:

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

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

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Sat, 19 Apr 2014 14:58:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14588-tolonews-6pm-news-19-april-2014
Health Minister Summoned to Parliament http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14587-health-minister-summoned-to-parliament alt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sat, 19 Apr 2014 14:49:02 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14587-health-minister-summoned-to-parliament
IEC Unclear When Final Results Will Be Announced http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14586-iec-unclear-when-final-results-will-be-announced alt

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

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

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

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

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

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Sat, 19 Apr 2014 14:25:05 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14586-iec-unclear-when-final-results-will-be-announced
Category A Complaints Inspection to End in Two Days http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14585-category-a-complaints-inspection-to-end-in-two-days alt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sat, 19 Apr 2014 13:26:42 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14585-category-a-complaints-inspection-to-end-in-two-days
TAKANI: The Election Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/14584-takani-the-election-process alt

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

• Bismiullah Afghan, Senator

• Mir Ahmad Sirat, professor at the University

• Qazi Ismaelzada, civil society activist

• Ahmad Saeedi, Political analyst

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Sat, 19 Apr 2014 12:43:21 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/14584-takani-the-election-process
ELECTION DAY 2014: Roles of Women in Elections http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14583-election-day-2014-roles-of-women-in-elections alt

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

• Dr. Alima, women activist

• Dr. Humaira Qaderi, civil society activist

• Kamela Sediqqi, head of Kaween company

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Sat, 19 Apr 2014 12:24:47 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14583-election-day-2014-roles-of-women-in-elections
4 Taliban Insurgents Killed in Afghan Army Operation http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14581-4-taliban-insurgents-killed-in-afghan-army-operation alt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sat, 19 Apr 2014 09:53:13 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14581-4-taliban-insurgents-killed-in-afghan-army-operation
First Earth-Sized Planet Found in 'Habitable Zone': NASA http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14580-first-earth-sized-planet-found-in-habitable-zone-nasa alt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Tracking 'transits' -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sat, 19 Apr 2014 04:16:49 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14580-first-earth-sized-planet-found-in-habitable-zone-nasa
Helmand Promoted Among Grade A Provinces http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14579-helmand-promoted-among-grade-a-provinces alt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:03:27 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14579-helmand-promoted-among-grade-a-provinces
TOLOnews 6pm News 18 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14578-tolonews-6pm-news-18-april-2014 alt Top news in this Bulletin:

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

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

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Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:58:19 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14578-tolonews-6pm-news-18-april-2014
Karzai Confident Candidates Will Respect Election Outcome http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14576-karzai-confident-candidates-will-respect-election-outcome alt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:45:56 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14576-karzai-confident-candidates-will-respect-election-outcome
IEC Recounts and Reviews Suspicious Votes http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14577-iec-recounts-and-reviews-suspicious-votes alt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:45:47 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14577-iec-recounts-and-reviews-suspicious-votes
Writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez dead at 87 http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/14575-writer-gabriel-garcia-marquez-dead-at-87 alt

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

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

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

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

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

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Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:28:56 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/14575-writer-gabriel-garcia-marquez-dead-at-87
One dead as S. Korea ferry with 476 passengers sinks http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/14574-one-dead-as-s-korea-ferry-with-476-passengers-sinks alt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ferry manifest included 150 cars.

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

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

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Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:21:06 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/14574-one-dead-as-s-korea-ferry-with-476-passengers-sinks
6:30 REPORT: Afghanistan's Third Presidential Election http://www.tolonews.com/en/6:30-report/14573-630-report-afghanistans-third-presidential-election

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

To watch the video, click here:

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Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:25:08 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/6:30-report/14573-630-report-afghanistans-third-presidential-election
ELECTION DAY 2014: Electoral Commissions Performance http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14572-election-day-2014-electoral-commissions-performance

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

Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhil, IEC Secretariat

Nader Mohseni, ECC Spokesman

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Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:14:27 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14572-election-day-2014-electoral-commissions-performance
TAKANI: Diversities of 2014 Elections compared to Past Election http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/14571-takani-diversities-of-2014-elections-compared-to-past-election

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

Guests:

Naeem Asghari, Head of Planning in FEFA

Asef Wardak, Freelance Journalist

Hamidullah Hotak, Tribal Elder

Abdullah Poyan, Political Expert

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Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:11:54 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/14571-takani-diversities-of-2014-elections-compared-to-past-election
TOLOnews 6pm News 17 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14570-tolonews-6pm-news-17-april-2014 alt Top news in this Bulletin:

The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) on Thursday said that a list of roughly 1,000 polling centers to be investigated in connection with allegations of fraud would be shared with the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the votes from those centers would be excluded from the counting process until they are verified.

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ECC officials acknowledged openly that the investigations could impact the election results, which are expected to bring on a runoff vote scheduled for late May.

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Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:11:42 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14570-tolonews-6pm-news-17-april-2014
ANP Officers Kidnapped on Kabul-Kandahar Highway http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14569-anp-officers-kidnapped-on-kabul-kandahar-highway alt

While traveling along the Kabul-Kandahar Highway, a group of Afghan National Police (ANP) officers were attacked by insurgents and two of them were taken captive. The Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoIA) has confirmed that three police officers and one Afghan National Army (ANA) member were killed.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said that an operation to free the two soldiers was underway in the Said Abad district of Maidan Wardak province. So far 17 militants have been reportedly killed.

The Kabul-Kandahar highway is one of the most important highways in Afghanistan, with thousands of Afghans using it daily for personal and commercial commutes to over 10 provinces. However, it has also become a hotbed of insurgent violence and organized crime in recent years, making passage dangerous for anyone, let alone security forces.

According to reports, the group of officers were attacked by militants clothed in normal civilian garb in the Pul Surkh area of Maidan Wardak.

Some of those who use the Kabul-Kandahar highway the most, like commercial truck drivers, are understandably the most fearful of the security issues it faces. Last fall, hundreds of truck drivers went on strike demanding that security forces do more to ensure safe passage along the highway.

Since then, new security check posts have been erected along the highway. However, as this week's attack and abductions stand to show, there remains much to be done if the Kabul-Kandahar throughway is to be freed of its perils.

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Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:48:06 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14569-anp-officers-kidnapped-on-kabul-kandahar-highway
IEC To Announce Preliminary Results Next Week http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14568-iec-to-announce-preliminary-results-next-week alt

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Thursday said it would announce a large portion of preliminary results from the April 5 election at sometime next week.

With the counting process ongoing, and thousands of votes being pulled out of it for investigations of fraud, the IEC declined to offer any details about what percentage of the results would be used in the preliminary announcement.

"Based on the discussions that we had today, we will be announcing a major percentage of results through the press next week, but it is still unclear what day and what hour; we first need to make sure that our technical unit is ready and IEC members have approved it," IEC spokesman Noor Muhammad Noor said.

Although the over seven million ballots cast on April 5 began to be counted just hours after polls closed, the IEC has said it is in the process of recounting votes after a number of result sheets appeared tampered with and polling centers were implicated in allegations of rigging.

So far results from 217 centers from 24 out of the 31 provinces expected to be recounted have been. The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) has reportedly asked the IEC to recount votes from over 500 centers and have those suspected of fraud to be isolated.

"Cooperation between the two commissions of ECC and IEC is ongoing very well," Noor said on Thursday.

Earlier this week, ECC officials had criticized the IEC for not cooperating with its investigations into the over 3,000 complaints it has received from around the country. Reportedly, well over 1,000 of the complaints filed with the ECC directly implicate IEC employees electoral irregularities.

The number of centers from where result sheets returned without proper packaging or endorsements from observers was not said, and the extent of this problem remains largely unclear. Though the IEC on Thursday said audits of the centers in question were underway.

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Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:37:09 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14568-iec-to-announce-preliminary-results-next-week
Pakistani Analysts Want Kabul-Islamabad Restart http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14567-pakistani-analysts-want-kabul-islamabad-restart alt

With the next Afghan President on the horizon, a number of prominent Pakistani analysts have publicly encouraged a rapprochement between long-estranged neighbors Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Arguably the biggest point of tension between Kabul and Islamabad over the years has been the support the Afghan Taliban and its affiliates have received from the Pakistani military and intelligence apparatus. However, in addition to arguing against this strategy on its merits, a number of experts have suggested Pakistan's backing of the Taliban is already in decline.

"It seems that the Afghan Taliban are weakening because the financial aid the group was receiving from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is declining, and the Taliban are now in a weaker position," former Pakistani military officer Mahmood Shah told TOLOnews on Thursday.

The relative success of the April 5 elections in Afghanistan, which saw unexpectedly high turnout and Taliban violence that fell below most predictions, has reportedly contributed to a rising optimism about the future of relations with Pakistan. With a new government in Kabul soon, many hope to turn over a new leaf.

"When Afghanistan is in stable condition, other countries analyze the situation and realize that the proper person will meet the demands of the Afghan people," Pakistani journalist Aqil Yousafzai said.

"Change has come to Pakistan's perspective, particularly in its Afghan policy," political analyst Ismail Khan added.

However, among Afghan analysts, hope for a marked change in the dynamic between Kabul and Islamabad remains guarded at best.

"We appreciate the Pakistani's army idea of not supporting and cooperating with terrorists," Afghan analyst Abbas Nowyan said. "A limited period of time remains for the establishment of a new government in Afghanistan, and we hope that Pakistan undertake practical measures in this sphere before the formation of the new government."

At worst, others were skeptical of any genuine hope for improved relations between Kabul and Islamabad.

"Pakistan has always asserted such things that we [Pakistan] and Afghanistan are the victims of terrorism, but this is a lie," Afghan analyst Mia Gul Wasiq said. "We are the victims of terrorists produced by Pakistan, and those who were trained by Pakistan sometimes turn on them; the assertions are an act by Pakistan, because they want to appear cooperative with the new government in Afghanistan."

In recent weeks, Afghan officials have accused the Pakistani military of targeting Afghan security check posts on Election Day and trying to sabotage the elections.

The Taliban had denounced the voting process, and vowed to derail it with violence in the weeks leading up. But insecurity on Election Day was minimal, which boded well for the Afghan security forces that are assuming oversight around the country as the NATO coalition prepares to withdraw by the end of the year.

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Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:14:49 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14567-pakistani-analysts-want-kabul-islamabad-restart
ECC: Votes From 1,000 Polling Centers Inspected http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14566-ecc-votes-from-1000-polling-centers-inspected alt

The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) on Thursday said that a list of roughly 1,000 polling centers to be investigated in connection with allegations of fraud would be shared with the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the votes from those centers would be excluded from the counting process until they are verified.

ECC officials acknowledged openly that the investigations could impact the election results, which are expected to bring on a runoff vote scheduled for late May. They also expressed concerns that certain government and non-governmental interests would try to interfere with the investigation process.

"There are up to 1,000 centers whose lists have been seperated, with the only difference that some of the centers will be inspected completely and some of them partially," ECC Deputy Walid Akbar Sarwari said. "We have shared these topics with the election commission and today the IEC has started the process in the presence of our delegation."

According to Sarwari, 50 percent of the investigations have been completed and the next step will be to decide how to handle the findings. The ECC's decisions are expected to be announced publicly.

On Wednesday, the ECC said that there were some 892 complaint cases being investigated that directly pertained to the counting process. The IEC also announced that recounts would soon begin for 31 out of the 34 provinces in light of discoveries made involving fraudulent votes.

"We are seriously concerned about security threats faced by our staff in the provinces and also from the interference of elements that want to meddle in this process," Sarwari said. "We will move forward in a transparent and neutral manner and will not surrender to pressures, but when the pressures are beyond our capacity, we will tell the nation."

The IEC is expected to announced the preliminary results of the presidential election by April 24, and the final results on May 14.

"Politicians are trying to infiltrate inside the commission and its decisions, if the election commission establishes a strong barrier that can prevent infiltration from outsiders - whether it is the government, powerful figures or politicians - this would be their great success," former IEC chief Fazel Ahmad Manavi told TOLOnews.

ECC officials have said that the number of complaints filed has increased, with now 2,122 complaints having been received with evidence. From that number, 1,339 are against IEC staff members, 456 are against presidential candidates and the remaining 527 complaints are targeted at provincial council candidates.

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Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:07:38 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14566-ecc-votes-from-1000-polling-centers-inspected
ELECTION DAY 2014: Election Runoff, Coalition and Its Effects on Afghanistan's Future http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14565-election-day-2014-election-runoff-coalition-and-its-effects-on-afghanistans-future alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Enayatullah Mudaris discusses the election runoff, coalitions and its effects on Afghanistan's future with the following guests:

Daoud Muradyan, Director of Afghan Institute of Strategic Studies

Abdul Ghafoor Lewal, head of Afghanistan's Regional Studies Center

Mujibul Rahman Rahimi, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah's campaign member

Abas Noyan, Dr. Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's campaign member

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}f6HJYnbSaPk{/youtube}

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Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:42:38 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14565-election-day-2014-election-runoff-coalition-and-its-effects-on-afghanistans-future
FARAKHABAR: 16 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/14564-farakhabar-16-april-2014 alt

House of representatives want the government to quickly pass the Money Laundering and Prevention of Terrorism Financy Law.

In this episode of Farakhbar host, Enayatullah Mudaris discusses the issue with the following guests:

Ahmad Sayed Quraishe, economic analyst

Idris Rahmani, political analyst

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}kE7UMiwPdJ8{/youtube}

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Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:33:19 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/14564-farakhabar-16-april-2014
TAKANI: Suspicious Votes http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/14563-takani-suspicious-votes alt

In this episode of Takani host, Shapoor Bakhtiyar discusses the evaluation of suspicious votes by the IEC and the partial results with the following guests:

Dr Faiz Mohammad Zaland, political analyst

Mohammad Naeem Ayoubzada, head of TEFA

Hayatullah Hayat, head of the Coordination Center of Civil Society Institutions

Fahim Dashti, journalist and writer

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}a9cfJgrm_4s{/youtube}

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE AR-SA MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

TAKANI: Suspicious Votes

In this episode of Takani host, Shapoor Bakhtiyar discusses the evaluation of suspicious votes by the IEC and the partial results with the following guests:

Dr Faiz Mohammad Zaland, political analyst

Mohammad Naeem Ayoubzada, head of TEFA

Hayatullah Hayat, head of the Coordination Center of Civil Society Institutions

Fahim Dashti, journalist and writer

To watch the program, click here:

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Thu, 17 Apr 2014 08:06:38 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/14563-takani-suspicious-votes
TOLOnews 6pm News 16 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14562-tolonews-6pm-news-16-april-2014 alt Top news in this Bulletin:

Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) spokesman Nadir Mohseni acknowledged Tuesday that complaint investigations could likely impact election results.

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Out of the 1,300 cases being investigated, the ECC said 892 could directly effect election results and were being taken very seriously.

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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:10:48 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14562-tolonews-6pm-news-16-april-2014
Recounts Begin for 22 Provinces http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14561-recounts-begin-for-22-provinces alt

With nearly all ballots and result sheets delivered to the central Independent Election Commission (IEC) office in Kabul, a joint IEC and Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) recount is expected to begin for 22 provinces.

IEC alluded to transparency and addressing the complaints of election observers and presidential candidates as the reasons behind the recount, the announcement of which comes the same day the ECC stated there were 892 complaint cases that directly impacted votes cast on April 5.

"Recount of votes in 22 provinces officially started today. In total, recount will take place in 31 provinces," IEC spokesman Noor Muhammad Noor said on Wednesday.

Mr. Noor said that centers with more than 600 ballots - the standard number distributed to each site - would all be recounted, as per procedure.

Result sheets from nearly 500 centers have been returned to IEC headquarters without proper stamping or endorsements from IEC observers and are under review.

"There were instances where results sheets had no IEC stamp or no signature of center managers or observers. The commission has decided to these results sheets will be re-audited," Noor added.

The IEC had said earlier this week that result sheets without the IEC stamp and signatures from observers would be considered void and would not be counted as part of the preliminary results.

The ECC has reportedly sent information to the IEC intended for isolating corrupted votes from the counting process. However, a significant number of the complaints the ECC has received have been directed at IEC employees.

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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:01:43 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14561-recounts-begin-for-22-provinces
ECC: 892 Complaints Under Scrutiny, Could Impact Results http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14560-ecc-892-complaints-under-scrutiny-could-impact-results alt

Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) spokesman Nadir Mohseni acknowledged Tuesday that complaint investigations could likely impact election results. Out of the 1,300 cases being investigated, the ECC said 892 could directly effect election results and were being taken very seriously.

Mr. Mohseni said the 892 complaints in question, falling in Category A, would mean isolating ballots from the counting process for verification. The ECC received more than 3,000 complaints following the historic April 5 national election, though more than half have been discarded for lack of evidence.

"We will isolate the invalid votes stuffed in the ballot boxes through rigging so that fake and genuine votes are differentiated, this should have an impact on the elections, but it doesn't mean that the process will be harmed or all the votes declared invalid - this would not happen," Mohseni said.

The ECC is expected to communicate all relevant information regarding its cases to the Independent Election Commission (IEC) so that fraudulent votes can be separated as quickly as possible from the counting process.

"We have identified 516 cases and sent them to the election commission to be taken out, we will isolate 892 cases according to our reports, but we are waiting to receive more details from the provinces, lists must be sent to us so that we can forward them on to the IEC," Mohseni said.

All ballots picked out of the counting process in relation to a complaint will be assessed by a committee formed by the IEC, their work open to media and observers for purposes of transparency.

Of the complaints the ECC has received, reportedly some 1,000 of them implicate IEC employees.

Meanwhile, the IEC has repeatedly restated its commitment to a transparent and fair vote-counting process. On Tuesday in Kabul, IEC officials announced that all result sheets returned without proper packaging, IEC stamping and endorsement signatures from observers would be disqualified.

Free and Fair Elections Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) spokesman Mohammad Fahim Naeemi criticized both electoral commissions for not allowing observers to monitor the vote counting and complaints investigation processes earlier this week.

"The ECC invites the observers only when they receive the complaints, but when they start evaluating, there are no observers."

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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:47:12 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14560-ecc-892-complaints-under-scrutiny-could-impact-results
Legislators Criticize Incomplete Quorum http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14559-legislators-criticize-incomplete-quorum alt

On Wednesday a number of Afghan legislators criticized their colleagues who do not attend house meetings demanding that their titles be revoked, expressing that their absence is an act of oppression against the people they represent.

"On the basis of article 108 of the constitution, we can dismiss a MP who remains absent for longer than one month," Member of Parliament Ramazan Bashardost said. "We can dismiss the MP on the basis of not conducting his duty and on the basis of betrayal to his province, because he represents his province and he is depriving those who support him."

An incomplete quorum has become an important issue among parliament members. Because the lack of attendance during house meetings, a few MPs angrily demanded that the memberships of the absentees be repealed.

"It is shameful for me as a lawmaker to violate the law and commit an act of oppression against the people," Maidan Wardak Member of Parliament, Ghulam Hussain Naseri, said. "But when it comes time to appear and talk about the president, Supreme Court, Independent Election Commission and Electoral Complaints Commission they show up."

The House of Representatives will disclose the names of the parliament members who have not attended meetings to the media.

During today's parliamentary session, members endorsed ratification on value added tax; a tax on the amount of increased value placed on an article at each stage of its production or distribution

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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:09:44 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14559-legislators-criticize-incomplete-quorum
Observers Question Transparency of Counting Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14558--observers-question-transparency-of-counting-process alt

Two of Afghanistan's biggest civil society election monitoring groups criticized both election commissions for failing to conduct the voting counting and complaints management processes transparently.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) has emphasized the need for a fair and transparent election yet not permitted observers to view sealed ballot boxes being opened.

"No observation mechanism is provided for the observers the way it should be," Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) representative Muhammad Naeem Ayoubzada said. "We have observers at the counting centers, and they are located in a very far location and serve as an audience rather than observers; they can't observe the counting or the registering process."

The IEC has maintained that national and international observers are present at the ballot gathering process at centers across the country and can observe every step.

Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) spokesman Muhammad Fahim Naeemi told TOLOnews that his organization's observers are not present when suspicious result sheets are reviewed by IEC employees.

"Usually, when these boxes arrive, regular boxes are opened and sent to be scanned and to be added to the database, which our observers can't observe," Naeemi said. "Suspicious boxes are sent for review, but we don't know where and how they will be reviewed."

The grievances of the civil society groups did not end at the IEC, their frustrations for lack of transparency extended to the complaints commission as well.

"The ECC has meetings everyday to address complaints and the observers are only sometimes invited," TEFA's Ayoubzada said. "The instances where we are not invited, we don't know what goes on, or how the ECC is addressing its challenges."

The IEC has said there are reserved spots assigned to observers at the results gathering center, where they can reportedly observe anything they want.

"We have set a specific spot up for media and observers, where they can observe close to 200 computers," IEC spokesman Noor Muhammad Noor said. "The issue of scanning that was brought up, that happens right in front of them, at a distance; observing is within a specific framework according to the election laws, we cannot let the observers sit next to our workers."

Approximately 358,000 national and international observers have been closely monitoring the election process.

Both election commissions on Wednesday discussed questionable result sheet packaging and votes to be isolated for complaints investigations. In total, the ECC has 892 complaints that it has said could directly effect the vote count.

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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:07:54 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14558--observers-question-transparency-of-counting-process
Two Afghan Soldiers and Seven Taliban Killed in Laghman http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14557-two-afghan-soldiers-and-seven-taliban-killed-in-laghman alt

Seven Taliban—one of which was the leader—and two Afghan soldiers were killed, while four other insurgents and a policeman were injured in an operation led by Afghan forces in eastern Laghman on Tuesday, local officials said on Wednesday.

The operation launched in Alingar district of Laghman early Tuesday and continued through the evening to clear the area of insurgents. During the operation, residents of the Nolamsib valley in the Alingar district rebelled against the insurgents in support of the Afghan forces, Provincial Governor Spokesman Sarhadi Zhwak said.

Zhwak added that the Afghan forces have cleared Jabarkhil, Pariyana and several other villages of Alingar district of insurgents.

Alingar distinct is known as an insecure province where insurgents have been very active in targeting Afghan security forces.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoIA) released a statement stating that these operations are being conducted throughout Afghanistan to rid the country of insurgents.

Statement reads: "the Afghan National Police (ANP), Afghan National Army (ANA) and the National Directorate of Security (NDS), have conducted several anti-terrorism joint operations in Kabul, Nangarhar, Laghman, Kandahar, Wardak, Logar and Paktia provinces."

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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:08:25 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14557-two-afghan-soldiers-and-seven-taliban-killed-in-laghman
Farakhabar: 15 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/14556-farakhabar-15-april-2014- alt

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Enayatullah Mudaris discusses corruption at customs with the following guests:

Yama Turabi, head of Afghanistan Transparency Watch

Munawar Shah Bahaduri, MP

To watch the programme, click here:

{youtube}vsQ-jT_NQBo{/youtube}

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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:06:13 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/14556-farakhabar-15-april-2014-
TAKANI: Slow Counting Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/14555-takani-slow-counting-process alt

In this episode of Takani, host Zabiullah Sadaat discusses concerns toward the slow counting process with the following guests:

Saleh Mohammad Saleh, MP

Ghulam Hussain Nasiri, MP

Ajmal Hodman, Head of Afghan Lawyers Network

Hassan Mubarak Azizi, political analyst

To watch the programme, click here:

{youtube}a190DOnrl0E{/youtube}

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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:03:23 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/14555-takani-slow-counting-process
ELECTION DAY 2014: Partial Results and its effects on Election Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14554-election-day-2014-partial-results-and-its-effects-on-election-process alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Omid Farooq discusses the release of partial results and its effects on the election process with the following guests:

Siddiqullah Tawhidi, director of 'Nai – Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan

Noor Mohammad Noor, spokesman of Independent Election Commission (IEC)

Aziz Rafae, head of civil society organization  

Muhammad Fahim Naeemi, FEFA spokesman

To watch the programme, click here:

{youtube}TYEUj18sIV4{/youtube}

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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 07:37:22 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14554-election-day-2014-partial-results-and-its-effects-on-election-process
Debate Over Corruption at Customs http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14553-debate-over-corruption-at-customs alt

Speaking to the The Washington Times, Deputy U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Jarrett Blanc said that ongoing corruption in Afghanistan customs offices has undermined much needed revenues. However, the Afghan Ministry Finance (MoF) has disputed those claims.

Custom incomes are considered one of the biggest sources of revenue for the Afghan government, which does not make as much off taxes as many other governments do. Mr. Blanc has maintained there has been a noticeable drop in those incomes in direct relation to corruption within the customs department.

Corruption has been a growing issue in Afghanistan over the years, but with the U.S.-led coalition prepared to withdraw by December, concerns about its effect on the future of the Afghan economy have heightened.

"Recent shortfalls in revenue collection are troubling, and reflect a number of factors, including a general slowdown in the economy," Mr. Blanc said in a written statement. "We have seen some steps by the Afghans in recent months to address domestic revenue collection, though there is much more work to be done...There is no question that corruption remains a fundamental challenge in Afghanistan."

Mr. Blanc maintained nearly half of all public income has been embezzled at customs offices

Meanwhile, Afghan officials from the Finance Ministry have disputed his claims that corruption is the major force behind declining revenues at customs offices. According to MoF spokesman Abdul Qadir Jailani, negative speculations about the Afghan market have caused the downturn, not increased corruption.

"The main reason behind the declining incomes is not corruption, but the speculations and negative propaganda against the government of Afghanistan, particularly surrounding the elections," Jailani said on Tuesday. "Last year, we set a 114 billion AFG target for custom incomes and we received 109 billion dollars," he added.

And regardless of who is more right, administrative corruption remains a major issue in Afghanistan, and one that most experts say must be tackled if the country is to see any efficient economic growth in the coming years.

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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 06:01:33 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14553-debate-over-corruption-at-customs
UPDATE: Afghan MP Injured by NDS Personnel in Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14552-update-afghan-mp-injured-by-nds-personnel-in-kabul alt

Afghan parliamentarian Maryam Koofi was shot by a National Directorate of Security (NDS) personnel in Kabul on Tuesday night and the shooter was arrested, said local officials on Wednesday.

The incident took place in Aria Township where she resides and the motive behind the attack is not clear yet, said the Ministry of Interior Affair's (MoIA) spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi.

"Ms. Mariam Koofi, member of the Parliament, was injured by one of our personnel security force after an argument broke out between the two," Sediqqi said. "The suspect has been arrested and investigations are in progress."

Eyewitness said four people came out of a white vehicle around 9:55 p.m. among the four one shot MP Koofi. The shooter not only shot Koofi, but her bodyguard injuring him. The three other suspects fled the scene.

"Mariam Koofi was on her way home when she was attacked by the gunmen," Noor Mohammad Aria, resident representative of Aria, said. "One of the attackers was injured and the three others fled the area."

Aria town is known for being a secure place in Kabul where most governmental officials live.

MP Koofi was taken to the hospital and is reported to be in stable condition, hospital officials said.

She is the sister of parliamentarian Fawzia Koofi who represents northeastern Takhar province.

This was the second attack carried out by unknown gunmen against high profile officials in Kabul on Tuesday.

The Deputy Minister of Public Works, Ahmad Shah Wahid, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen Tuesday morning in Kabul city.

Police officials said they have launched a full investigation.

Kabul city has been relatively safe in terms of kidnapping in the past couple of years, while suicide bombings and tactical assaults have remained more common. But the abduction of Minister Wahid alarmed government officials and business leaders.

Kidnapping Afghan officials is not a tactic often used by the Taliban. Experts suggest that it might be criminals who seek ransom.
NDS declined to comment on the incident.

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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 04:00:15 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14552-update-afghan-mp-injured-by-nds-personnel-in-kabul
S. Korea Ferry with 450 Passengers Sinks http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14551-s-korea-ferry-with-450-passengers-sinks alt

South Korean coastguard vessels and helicopters pulled passengers off a stricken ferry as it sank Wednesday off the southern coast with around 450 passengers on board -- mostly high school students.

There were no immediate reports of any casualties, but Lee Gyeong-Og, the vice minister of security and public administration, told reporters in Seoul that he could only confirm the rescue of 110 passengers so far.

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

The ferry, bound for the southern resort island of Jeju, send out a distress signal at 9:00 am (0000 GMT) with passenger testimony suggesting it may have run aground.

"We heard a big thumping sound and the boat stopped," one passenger told the YTN news channel by telephone.

"The boat is tilting and we have to hold on to something to stay seated," the passenger said.

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

It was carrying a total of 476 passengers and crew, of which 325 were high school students on a trip to Jeju island -- known as "South Korea's Hawaii" and one of the country's most popular tourist destinations.

Og said a total of 34 naval, coastguard and civilian vessels were involved in the rescue operation, along with 18 helicopters.

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

The ferry manifest included 150 cars.

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Wed, 16 Apr 2014 02:41:01 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14551-s-korea-ferry-with-450-passengers-sinks
TOLOnews 6pm News 15 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14550-tolonews-6pm-news-15-april-2014 Top news in this Bulletin:

Senate Chair Fazl Hadi Muslimyar on Tuesday urged Afghan election officials to maintain their neutrality in the vote counting process just as the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced it would disqualify all result sheets that fail to meet pre-established standards for validation.

IEC officials announced partial results, based on 10 percent of ballots, on Sunday, putting Abdullah Abdullah in the lead for the presidential race. However, the other candidates, and now a number of Senators, have emphasized the importance of cases of fraud being investigated and invalid votes distinguished from the rest before results are established.

{youtube}veJd_nqK_u8{/youtube}

 

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Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:19:29 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14550-tolonews-6pm-news-15-april-2014
US Awaits New President for BSA Signature http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14549-us-awaits-new-president-for-bsa-signature

At a meeting held in the western Herat province on Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham expressed support for the Afghan election process and said Washington looked forward to finalizing the security deal that would allow American troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014 with the next executive in Kabul.

The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) has been stalled ever since President Hamid Karzai placed new preconditions on signing the pact back in November of 2013. The U.S. has since welcomed statements from the top presidential candidates looking to succeed Karzai indicating their willingness to ink the accord without any further delay.

The BSA would provide the legal framework for a continued train and advise mission for foreign troops after the NATO combat mission ends in December, as well as ensure future financial support for the Afghan security forces from the U.S. and its allies.

"We have made clear that we are willing to wait for the next President of Afghanistan to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement and I am sure that whoever the next President is he will sign it as one of the first items of business in his presidency," Ambassador Cunningham said on Tuesday.

Negotiations over the BSA have been a major source of tension between the Karzai administration and Washington in recent months. Many experts and political leaders in Afghanistan have derided Karzai for undermining relations with the U.S., which many of them see as being crucial to the improvement of future security and economic conditions.

The top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan on Tuesday also expressed confidence in the processes of Afghanistan's election commissions, which now face the daunting task of filtering out illegitimate votes from the estimated seven million that were cast on April 5.

"This is now the time to let the Afghan process work for the people of Afghanistan, and for the candidates and their campaigns to allow the institutions to announce the results of the elections, and then if there is second round of elections, to began preparing for those," Cunningham said. He encouraged candidates to respect the Independent Election Commission's (IEC) decisions.

Although partial results based on 10 percent of ballots were announced on Sunday, putting presidential hopeful Abdullah Abdullah in the lead, those results were not yet filtered for irregularities. The preliminary results, which are expected to be more accurate and reflect greater scrutiny, are scheduled to be announced by April 24. Final results will not be publicized until May 14, after the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) has concluded its investigations.

"The United States and our international partners will continue to do what we can to support the transparent and credible political process that the Afghan people want," Cunningham said. "I repeat that we have not and will not support any particular candidate." He said he was confident the U.S. would be able to work with whoever the next President is.

The Ambassador took time to praise the turnout Election Day saw, which surprised many after weeks of Taliban violence had captured headlines. He said broad participation of Afghan women further symbolized how far Afghan democracy has come.

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Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:35:29 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14549-us-awaits-new-president-for-bsa-signature
Senate Urges Neutrality, IEC Draws Line on Result Sheets http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14548-senate-urges-neutrality-iec-draws-line-on-result-sheets

Senate Chair Fazl Hadi Muslimyar on Tuesday urged Afghan election officials to maintain their neutrality in the vote counting process just as the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced it would disqualify all result sheets that fail to meet pre-established standards for validation.

IEC officials announced partial results, based on 10 percent of ballots, on Sunday, putting Abdullah Abdullah in the lead for the presidential race. However, the other candidates, and now a number of Senators, have emphasized the importance of cases of fraud being investigated and invalid votes distinguished from the rest before results are established.

The IEC is expected to announce the preliminary results of the presidential election on April 24. And the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) is to adjudicate the over 3,000 complaints that have been filed since Election Day by May 8, with the final results of the election being announced by May 14.

"We give the IEC and ECC time to ensure fake votes are separated from genuine votes, and not accept pressure from anyone," Senate Chair Muslimyar said on Tuesday. "They must try to focus on what the people want from them."

IEC officials have repeatedly reaffirmed their commitment to conducting the vote-counting process in a fair and transparent manner. Election Day saw less overt fraud and ballot box stuffing than was the case in 2009, according to observers, but much of the improprieties that did take place were done by IEC personnel. The Commission employed some 97,000 people nationwide to manage the process on May 5.

After Tuesday, all result sheets that lack proper packaging and validation are now expected to be disqualified. The IEC said up to 400 packs of result sheets were brought to the headquarters in Kabul in non-official packaging, without an IEC stamp or endorsement signature from observers. The packs were assessed in an open-door meeting in the presence of media and election monitors.

According to the IEC, special packages had been sent to provincial election offices to be used to contain the result sheets from each polling center, but in some cases they were not used or were clearly tampered with. Each center's package was intended to include the results from two to four polling sites.

A number of observers representing presidential candidates have claimed that even some of the result sheets properly packaged were inconsistent with vote registry numbers, suggesting there could still be illegitimate votes among them.

The presidential candidates and their supporting staffs have been the most outspoken about the vote counting process, and the need for fairness and transparency as results begin to be publicized. Reportedly, hundreds of the complaints filed with the ECC were from candidates.

On Tuesday Senator Khaliq Dad Balaghi recommended that the Upper House summon ECC officials to discuss the complaint investigation process.

"Both commissions must pursue impartiality and announce the election results with honesty," Senator Ali Akbar Jamshidi said on Tuesday.

The senators also called on the presidential candidates to respect the election commissions and their processes for determining results.

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Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:32:58 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14548-senate-urges-neutrality-iec-draws-line-on-result-sheets
ECC Wants to Isolate Votes From Certain Centers http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14547-ecc-wants-to-isolate-votes-from-certain-centers

Based on hundreds of serious complaints lodged against certain polling centers around the country, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) has called on the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to isolate thousands of votes from the counting process that is already well underway.

ECC's Spokesperson Nader Mohseni said that 870 serious complaints have been filed against certain polling centers, among the over 3,000 total complaints that have been submitted. Mohseni declined to provide details about the complaints or the centers at which they were directed.

However, 1,000 complaints filed with the ECC were said to be against IEC employees. The IEC has repeatedly restated its commitment to a transparent and fair vote-counting process, but it came under fire this week after announcing partial results that had not yet been filtered for fraud.

On Sunday, partial results based on 10 percent of votes were announced, placing Abdullah Abdullah in the lead of the presidential race. A number of candidates and civil society groups questioned the results on the basis that illegitimate ballots had been counted amongst them.

But this week has seen the IEC try to establish confidence in the vote-counting process. On Tuesday in Kabul, IEC officials announced that all result sheets returned without proper packaging, IEC stamping and endorsement signatures from observers would be disqualified.

The ECC has already begun evaluating complaints in provincial offices and it will begin next week in the central Kabul office. The ECC has said some IEC officials have be uncooperative with their investigations, but IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor maintained on Tuesday that there would be full cooperation.

"The Independent Election Commission is the partner of the Complaints Commission and we can share offices and equipment," Noor said.

Meanwhile, the Free and Fair Elections Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) criticized both electoral commissions for reportedly not allowing observers to monitor the vote registration and complaints investigation processes.

"The ECC invites the observers only when they receive the complaints, but when they start evaluating, there are no observers," FEFA spokesperson Mohammad Fahim Naeemi said.

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Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:30:06 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14547-ecc-wants-to-isolate-votes-from-certain-centers
6:30 REPORT: History of Elections in Afghanistan and the World http://www.tolonews.com/en/6:30-report/14546-630-report-history-of-elections-in-afghanistan-and-the-world alt

This week's 6:30 Report, host Anisa Shahid investigates the history of elections in Afghanistan and across the world. Topics covered are the differences of governmental systems, the role of holding elections in democratic countries and the importance of elections are main points of the program.

To watch the video, click here:

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Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:43:32 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/6:30-report/14546-630-report-history-of-elections-in-afghanistan-and-the-world
IEC Plans to Invalidate Votes http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14545-iec-plans-to-invalidate-votes alt

Officials of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) on Monday said that before the preliminary results of the 2014 elections are announced at the end of the month, ballots from certain polling sites will be investigated and those deemed illegitimate will be removed from the count.

"The ballots will progress through the seven steps, it will take time, but we are determined to announce a percentage of the results very soon based on the Independent Elections Commission's decision," IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said.

The IEC said 94.4 percent of ballots and result sheets nationwide have arrived at the election body's headquarters in Kabul. "Only 5.6 percent of the votes have not yet arrived in the center," Noor said. The materials are said to be under high security in order to keep them from being destroyed or meddled with.

Although the IEC announced partial results on Sunday based on 10 percent of the ballots, which placed presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah in the lead, it was noted that those results had not yet been filtered for invalid votes. The process of verifying votes' legitimacy will be completed before the next announcement of results, which is scheduled for April 24.

According to election officials, the verification process for materials will follow a basic, 4-point protocol in determining what merits further investigation:

- Result sheets that were not signed-off on by the site office chief

- Polling centers that opened after 12:00pm at a new site

- Polling sites where the six hundred votes were divided equally between two candidates

- Ballot boxes of centers where IEC staff were beaten or threatened

IEC Chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani said the results announced on Sunday count for 26 out of 34 provinces of Afghanistan, representing 500,000 of the estimated seven million ballots.

Abdullah Abdullah was said to be ahead with 41.9 percent, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai trailing at 37.6 percent, Zalmai Rassoul in third with 9.8 percent and Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf at fourth with 5.1 percent.

Excluding Abdullah, the presidential candidates criticized the IEC's partial results announcement emphasizing that the valid votes needed to be separated from the invalid ones before any results are publicized.

In addition to the IEC's vetting process, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) still has to wade through over 3,000 complaints of fraud and other violations that have been filed since Election Day.

The IEC on Monday said the elections process will continue according schedule. The preliminary results from the elections are expected to be announced on April 24 and the final results on May 14. If a runoff round occurs, it is tentatively scheduled for May 28.

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Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:34:09 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14545-iec-plans-to-invalidate-votes
TAKANI: Partial Results http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/14544-takani-partial-results alt

In this episode of Takani, host Shapoor Bakhtiyar discusses the announcement of partial results and the reactions received from the presidential candidates with the following guests:

Jamaludin Badar, Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf's representative

Tofan Waziri, Dr Zalmai Rassoul's representative

Abas Noyan, Dr Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's representative

Fazl Rahman Oria, Dr Abdullah Abdullah's representative

Faridoon Barakzai, Gul Agha Sherzai's representative

To watch the programme, click here:

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Tue, 15 Apr 2014 07:56:13 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/14544-takani-partial-results
ELECTION DAY 2014: Election Complaints http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14543-election-day-2014-election-complaints alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Enayatullah Mudaris discusses election complaints with ECC spokesman Nadir Mohseni.

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}gmfbQUCfG4Q{/youtube}

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Tue, 15 Apr 2014 07:53:02 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14543-election-day-2014-election-complaints
Landmine Kills One and Injures Nine in Khost http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14541-landmine-kills-one-and-injures-nine-in-khost alt

On Monday evening one civilian was killed and nine others were injured in a blast caused by a landmine in southern Khost, local officials said on Tuesday.

The incident took place in the capital of Khost when a vehicle struck the landmine killing one and injuring nine others, said Provincial Police Chief Faizullah Ghairat.

The victims have been taken to the hospital for treatment, he said.

No insurgent group, including the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the incident.

Insurgents frequently use explosive devices to target Afghan and NATO forces, but the victims in Monday evening's blast were civilians.

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Tue, 15 Apr 2014 07:06:27 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14541-landmine-kills-one-and-injures-nine-in-khost
FARAKHABAR: 14 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/14542-farakhabar-14-april-2014 alt

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Enayatullah Mudaris discusses fraud and violations in the election process with the following guests:

Naeem Ayoubzada, head of Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA)

Noor Mohammad Noorm, IEC spokesman

To watch the program, click here:

{youtube}ID63w3eB1y0{/youtube}

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Tue, 15 Apr 2014 06:58:28 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/14542-farakhabar-14-april-2014
Deputy Minister Kidnapped in Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14540-afghan-deputy-minister-kidnapped-in-kabul alt

Deputy Minister of Public Works, Ahmad Shah Waheed, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen Tuesday morning in Kabul city, making him the top government official to be abducted in the heavily fortified Afghan capital, officials said.

"Minister Waheed had just entered his vehicle from his home north of Kabul city at 7:20 a.m. to go to work when four gunmen opened fire on his vehicle, injuring his driver in the foot and taking the minister with them," said Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

An 18-year-old shopkeeper, Ahmad, witnessed the abduction and told TOLOnews reporter Karim Amini that the kidnappers were in a white SUV with one license plate on the back of the vehicle. He said they fired only two bullets.

"They were in local attire and managed to take the deputy minister in less than five minutes and flee the area," Ahmad said.

Police officials said they have launched a full investigation. 

Kabul city has been relatively safe in terms of kidnapping in the past couple of years, while suicide bombings and tactical assaults have remained more common. But the abduction of Minister Waheed alarmed other government officials and business leaders.

Kidnapping Afghan officials is not a tactic not often used by the Taliban. Experts suggest that it might be criminals who seek ransom. 

A family member of Minister Waheed, who did not want to be named, said they have not been contacted by the kidnappers yet.

Kabul Police Chief General Zahir Zahir told TOLOnews that protecting ministerial level officials is not his responsibility, explaining that protection for ministers and deputy ministers is  provided by the Afghan intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

Minister Waheed had neither a bodyguard nor an armored vehicle at the time of his abduction. 

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Tue, 15 Apr 2014 06:58:05 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14540-afghan-deputy-minister-kidnapped-in-kabul
Obama Urges Putin to Rein in Ukraine Insurgents http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/14539-obama-urges-putin-to-rein-in-ukraine-insurgents alt

US President Barack Obama urged Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a phone call to press pro-Moscow groups to lay down their arms in Ukraine, as the Kiev government sought UN help to tackle the growing insurgency.

Tensions between the US and Russia were exacerbated by two episodes at the weekend -- a confrontation in the Black Sea in which a Russian warplane "buzzed" a US destroyer and a visit to Kiev by CIA chief John Brennan.

A White House statement said the telephone call came at Russia's request and that Obama accused Moscow of supporting "armed pro-Russian separatists who threaten to undermine and destabilize the government of Ukraine".

Obama told President Putin that all "irregular forces in the country need to lay down their arms".

Putin denied involvement with the pro-Russian insurgents, but an unconvinced European Union expanded its sanctions against officials accused of seeking to break up the ex-Soviet country.

Putin told Obama that Russia was not sponsoring the Kalashnikov-toting separatists who have seized a string of key state buildings in eastern Ukraine, according to the Kremlin's account of the phone call between the two leaders.

He urged Obama to "do everything possible to avoid the use of force and a bloodbath", the Kremlin added.

- Call for UN help -

Ukraine's Western-backed interim President Oleksandr Turchynov meanwhile sought a way out of the escalating crisis by proposing a referendum on greater autonomy for the country's regions and seeking help from the United Nations.

The Ukrainian leader's office said Turchynov also asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for help "in conducting a joint anti-terrorist operation in the east".
There was no initial response from the UN, and Turchynov's office did not explain what precise help Ukraine was requesting.

Hundreds of people demonstrated in Kiev late Monday calling for a tough response against the pro-Russian insurgents and the sacking of Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.

On Sunday the Kiev government had promised a "full-scale" anti-terrorist operation against the separatists, but that has not materialised.

Russia has deployed 40,000 troops along Ukraine's eastern border, a presence the US and EU sought to counter by approving more than $2 billion in aid for Kiev's embattled interim administration.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg announced they were expanding the list of 33 Ukrainian and Russian officials and business leaders hit by asset freezes and visa bans for their role in the Ukraine crisis -- though the bloc stopped short of harsher measures ahead of a Geneva meeting of top EU, US, Russian and Ukrainian officials on Thursday.

Underlining the danger of an escalation into military conflict, the US said a Russian fighter jet had made several low-altitude passes near an American destroyer in the Black Sea at the weekend, branding the flyby "provocative and unprofessional".

- 'People's Republic of Donetsk' -

The White House meanwhile fended off Russian criticism of its own moves in the crisis, acknowledging that Central Intelligence Agency director Brennan had visited Kiev at the weekend but insisting it was part of a routine trip and that claims to the contrary were "absurd".

Russia's Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified source as saying Brennan recommended Kiev use force against pro-Russian militants in eastern districts.

The pro-Kremlin militias who have seized state buildings in coordinated raids across eastern Ukraine only appeared to be gaining confidence while paying little heed to the "full-scale anti-terrorist operation" announced with much fanfare in Kiev.

Protesters armed with rocks and clubs smashed their way inside a police station in Gorlivka -- a coal-mining town straddling a highway between the regional capital Donetsk and the city of Slavyansk to the north that is now effectively under militants' control.

The unrestrained crowd whistled and cheered as they ripped away metal shields from the visibly frightened local force before raising the tricolour flag of the self-declared "People's Republic of Donetsk".

Armed militants in Slavyansk -- already in control of the local police station and security service office -- took command of its administration building before asking Putin to send in his troops.

"We ask President Putin to help us," rebel leader Vyacheslav Ponomaryov told a group of reporters.

- National referendum -

The spreading unrest is rooted in the deep mistrust in the big industrial cities along Ukraine's Russian border of the new, nationalist government that enlisted Western support in toppling Kremlin-backed president Viktor Yanukovych in February.

Pro-Kremlin protesters in rundown regions such as Donetsk and Kharkiv are now seeking local referendums on either broader rights or an option to join the Russia.

Turchynov made a dramatic about-face aimed at defusing the tensions by backing a national poll on turning the centralised nation into a loose federation in which regions enjoy broader rights.

Washington has previously advised Kiev to devolve powers in order to avoid eastern Ukraine going the same way as Crimea, which Russia annexed last month.

"We are not against holding a national referendum," Turchynov told lawmakers. "I am certain that a majority of Ukrainians will support an indivisible, independent, democratic and united Ukraine."

The announcement stopped well short of meeting protesters' calls for each Russian-speaking region to stage its own referendum.

Polls show most in Kiev and the Ukrainian-speaking west supporting a strongly unified state.

US President Barack Obama urged Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a phone call to press pro-Moscow groups to lay down their arms in Ukraine, as the Kiev government sought UN help to tackle the growing insurgency.

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Tue, 15 Apr 2014 05:40:19 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/14539-obama-urges-putin-to-rein-in-ukraine-insurgents
TOLOnews 6pm News 14 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14538-tolonews-6pm-news-14-april-2014 Top news in this Bulletin:

Efforts are underway to detect the location of significant Taliban leader Mutasim Agha jan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mustaghna said on Monday.

Mutasim Agha Jan served as Taliban's chief of political committee and visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) frequently where peace negotiations were being held between the Taliban and Afghanistan's High Peace Council (HPC). Agha Jan, who was one of the few crucial Taliban figures that had direct contact with the HPC, lived in Turkey and recently disappeared during a tour to the UAE.

{youtube}FpuK7E44QQ8{/youtube}

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Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:48:51 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14538-tolonews-6pm-news-14-april-2014
Analysts Anticipate Presidential Runoff http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14536-analysts-anticipate-presidential-runoff alt

Political analysts have responded to the Independent Election Commission's (IEC) announcement of partial results from the presidential election, saying that if the counting process has reflected the true distribution of votes then the final results will likely mirror those already published, forcing a second-round of voting in over a month's time.

Presidential andidates and civil society groups have emphasized that the partial results were announced before the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) investigated and resolved the some 3,000 complaints of fraud and violations it received. Political analysts on Monday said it would be unclear who was leading to polls, and whether or not there will be a runoff, until fraudulent ballots are separated from legitimate ones.

The ECC is not expected to submit its final conclusions regarding complaints to the IEC until May 8. And final results are not scheduled to be announced until May 14.

Although last weekend's elections were widely regarded as a major success, with high turnout and few security issues, in the days since voter fraud and ballot box stuffing have received increasing attention. Election officials have assured that they will disclose all cases of irregularities and keep the vote count from being compromised by invalid ballots.

According to election laws, a runoff election is required if no presidential candidate receives a clear majority of votes. At the moment, based on the partial results announced on Sunday, Abdullah Abdullah is ahead with 41.9 percent, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai trails at 37.6 percent, Zalmai Rassoul is in third with 9.8 percent and Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf falls at fourth with 5.1 percent. The IEC said only 10 percent of votes, from 26 of the 34 provinces, have been counted.

Many experts in Afghanistan and abroad have forecasted a runoff election between Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani since the early days of the campaign season. If there is a second round, the IEC has tentatively scheduled it for May 28, but noted that timing could likely change.

According to the IEC, Abdullah leads the partial results in Kabul, Kapisa, Parwan, Kundoz, Samangan, Balkh, Sar-e-Pul, Badghis, Herat, Bamian and Panjsher provinces while Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai ahead in Logar, Paktia, Khost, Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman, Takhar, Jawozjan, Faryab, Farah, Nimroz, Helmand and Zabul provinces.

"It seems that the two candidates will continue their narrow competition, but the question of whether the election slips into a second round or not will be cleared up after 90 percent of the votes are counted," former ECC member Ahamd Zia Rafat told TOLOnews.

Zalmai Rassoul received the majority votes counted so far from southern Kandahar province while Gul Agha Sherzai leads in Uruzgan province.

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Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:15:57 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14536-analysts-anticipate-presidential-runoff
Key Peace-Seeking Taliban Leader Missing http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14535-key-taliban-leader-missing alt

Efforts are underway to determine the location of Taliban leader Mutasem Agha jan, known as one of the group's more moderate figures, who went missing while on a trip to the United Arab Emirates, according ot the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA). 

Mutasim Agha Jan served as the Taliban's chief of political affairs and visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) frequently for peace negotations between the Taliban and Afghanistan's High Peace Council (HPC).

Agha Jan, who was one of the few crucial Taliban figures that had direct contact with the HPC, lived in Turkey and recently disappeared during a tour to the UAE.

"The government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is aware of Agha Jan's disappearance in the UAE," MoFA spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mustaghna said on Monday.

There are rumors about the possibility that Agha Jan may have been abducted. MoFA has not released a statement in regards to the rumors, but has called the circumstances surrounding the disappearance ambiguous and questionable.

Over the past month, Agha Jan had met with the HPC delegation twice; both sides had agreed to continue peace discussions. 

In addition, Mustaghna touched on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) reiterating the importance of the Afghan government's preconditions. If signed, the BSA would allow some U.S. forces to stay in Afghanistan post-2014 and ensure continued financial support from the international community for the Afghan security forces. 

"We hope that our preconditions are honored," Mustaghna stated. "If our demands are met, there will be no obstruction in signing the agreement with Washington."

The BSA—expected to have been signed last winter—was pushed into deadlock after President Hamid Karzai set new preconditions for signing the agreement, which include an end to all U.S. unilateral operations in Afghanistan and getting the Taliban to the negotating table. The U.S. is now looking to ink the pact with the winner of the 2014 elections.

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Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:44:45 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14535-key-taliban-leader-missing
Finger-Cutting Taliban Killed in Kunduz http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14534-finger-cutting-taliban-leader-killed-in-kunduz alt

In an attempted attack on an Afghan force outpost in Northern Kunduz, Taliban leader Mullah Khedir and five other insurgents were killed while two insurgents were arrested and another two fled the scene during the clash on Monday morning, local officials said.

The attack took place in Tubrakash village in the capital of Kunduz around 7 a.m. when a number of insurgents attacked the Afghan force outpost, said the Provincial Police Chief, Ghulam Mustafa Mohseni, at a press conference.

"According to residents, Mullah Khedir was notorious for cutting the fingers of people who voted in the elections," Mohseni said.

After the clash money and weapons were confiscated from the insurgents.

Mohseni did not provide details about the number of the Afghan forces casualties.

Although, last week's historic elections have been praised for high voter turnout, many are anxious about the Taliban being a threat to the new government.

Experts believe the political transition could become complicated if candidates refuse to accept the results announced by election officials.

Preliminary vote counts are expected to be publicized in the coming weeks, with the final results not to be released until May 14.

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Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:49:15 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14534-finger-cutting-taliban-leader-killed-in-kunduz
Partial Results Meet Mixed Reception http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14533-partial-results-meet-mixed-reception alt

Following the announcement of partial results from the April 5 elections, with only 10 percent of votes counted, reactions from Afghan and international observers have been mixed. Excluding Abdullah Abdullah, who was said to be in the lead, presidential candidates emphasized that issues surrounding voting fraud should be sorted out before any results are established.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced the partial results on Sunday, after only 1/10 of votes had been counted from 26 provinces out of 34.

The announcement came just eight days after Afghans participated in unexpectedly high numbers for the country's first democratic transition of pose run modern history, despite widespread fears of Taliban violence.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) welcomed Sunday's partial election results as a step towards the completion of the electoral process. However, the UN's Ján Kubiš also sought to temper premature speculations about the results, which he said were still only the first "snapshot" of the elections potential outcome.

"While the release of partial results is a welcome step in the process, it only provides a first snapshot that will regularly be updated by the IEC until all result forms from every polling station have been tabulated and verified," said Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA. "Until the final results are announced by the IEC, stakeholders should be careful in drawing premature conclusions so as not to create inaccurate expectations."

He added that presidential candidates and their supporters should be patient during vote counting, and respect the authority of the IEC and Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) in presiding over the process.

According to IEC Chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, the votes announced on Sunday represented some 500,000 of the estimated seven million ballots cast on April 5. Based on Sunday's results, Abdullah Abdullah is ahead with 41.9 percent, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai trailing close behind at 37.6 percent, Zalmai Rassoul in third with 9.8 percent and Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf in fourth with 5.1 percent.

In a press conference on Sunday, Abdullah Abdullah, who was quick to suggest he had won the election just hours after polling stations closed on Election Day, welcomed the results and said it would be possible that the election does not enter a second round, as most expect it will.

"These results are preliminary because results from eight other provinces are still missing," Abdullah acknowledged. But he added: "Today's result indicates that the election might not go into a second round."

The eight provinces not included in the partial results were Paktika, Wardak, Ghazni, Badakhshan, Baghlan, Ghor, Nuristan and Daikondi. The election will only enter a second round if none of the candidates receive a clear majority of votes. According to the IEC, 75 percent of total votes have arrived in Kabul, but most remain uncounted.

The other presidential candidates were understandably less positive about the partial results than Abdullah. Presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai said in a press conference on Sunday that the partial result included both valid and invalid votes.

"Today's result was a basic result," Ghani said. "The counted votes included both clean and fraudulent votes, which need to be differentiated, and I hope this is distinguished soon."

Presidential candidates Zalmai Rassoul, Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf, Daoud Sultanzoy, Gul Agha Sherzai, Qutbuddin Helal and Hedayat Amin Arsala also spoke out in question of the partial results legitimacy, given that some 3,000 complaints of fraud and violations have yet to be fully investigated by the ECC.

Gul Agha Sherzai claimed thousands of votes in his favor were set on fire in Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan and other provinces.

The Fair and Free Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) and the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) called on presidential candidates to be patient regarding the results, saying they would probably change in the coming days. They encouraged the candidates to aid the ECC's investigation process.

"We ask the candidates to submit evidence of fraud to the ECC, if they have it, so the fraud can be investigated," FEFA's Spokesperson Mohammad Fahin Naeemi told TOLOnews on Sunday.

TEFA also released its findings regarding the main issues reported on Election Day. The report indicated ballot shortages, voter fraud and observers being prevented from monitoring were the biggest problems, but noted that the election was significantly more transparent and credible than the 2009 vote.

"Our findings reveal that participation in the 34 provinces was quite encouraging, and the presence of observers further added to this process, security was also effective compared to the previous elections," TEFA Chair Mohammad Naeem Ayoubzada said. "The 2014 elections were more transparent as compared to 2009 elections."

TEFA said 89 percent of the polling stations originally planned to be operational on Election Day were open to voters, and observers fully monitored the process in almost 90 percent of those places.

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Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:16:22 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14533-partial-results-meet-mixed-reception
Afghanistan vs. Kyrgyzstan Tie in Friendly Match http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/14532-afghanistan-vs-kyrgyzstan-tie-in-friendly-match alt

The Afghan National Football team faced Kyrgyzstan in a friendly match on Sunday April 13 in Dubai with both teams scoring 0-0.

The Afghan football team played well, but missed a few chances to score. Afghan left fullback Faisal Shaista lost a penalty after the ball hit the goal post, but center midfielder Arash Atifi controlled the ball and scored, but the referee determined the goal invalid.

"Eric Rutemöller, German coach for Afghanistan's football team, watched the team perform and together, we will review the players' skills," Senior Coach for Afghanistan's football team, Mohammad Yousuf Kargar, said. "We selected to play against Kyrgyzstan's football team because they play good football in Asia and this match showed us our weakness."

Afghan football team captain, Islamuddin Amiri, was happy about the team's performance.

"The match was very good, the weather was warm and the boy's played very well," said Amiri. "We lost a few chances to score, but we played well. The Kyrgyzstan team is not the team we beat 0-1 last time, now they are very powerful."

This was Afghanistan's third time playing Kyrgyzstan. The two previous matches Afghanistan had won.

The Afghan football team will head to Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe, on May 4 to play against their football team.

This friendly match was amid preparation for the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup beginning on May 19 in the Maldives.

The 2014 AFC Challenge Cup will be held in the Maldives from May 19 to May 30. The Afghan team will face the Philippine, Turkmenistan and Louis in the Challenge Cup. Winners will earn a seat in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

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Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:18:28 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/14532-afghanistan-vs-kyrgyzstan-tie-in-friendly-match
Russia Says Ukraine Waging 'War against Own People' http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/14531-russia-says-ukraine-waging-war-against-own-people alt

Ukraine's acting president accused Russia on Sunday of waging war in his country's separatist eastern rust belt and declared the launch of a "full-scale anti-terrorist operation" that left at least two dead.

The clashes broke out a day after masked gunmen stormed a series of police and security service buildings in coordinated raids that Washington's UN envoy Samantha Power said on Sunday bore "tell-tale signs of Moscow's involvement".

The heavily Russified region has been riven by unrest since a team of Western-backed leaders rose to power in February on the back of bloody protests against the old regime's decision to reject an EU alliance and look for future assistance from the Kremlin.

Russia has since massed around 40,000 soldiers along Ukraine's eastern frontier and threatened to halt its neighbour's gas supplies over unpaid bills -- a cutoff that would impact at least 18 EU nations and potentially lead to further retaliation against the Kremlin.

Saturday's attacks were especially unsettling for both Kiev and Western leaders because of their remarkable similarity to events leading up to Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.

The balaclava-clad gunmen were armed with special-issue assault rifles and scopes most often used by nations' crack security troops.

Many wore unmarked camouflage uniforms similar to those seen on the highly trained units that seized the Black Sea peninsula in early March. They also moved with military precision and cohesion.

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told the nation in a televised address that "we will not allow Russia to repeat the Crimean scenario in the east of Ukraine".

"Blood has been spilt in a war that is being waged against Ukraine by Russia," said Turchynov.

"The national security and defence council has decided to launch a full-scale anti-terrorist operation involving the armed forces of Ukraine."

The Russian foreign ministry immediately responded by accusing Ukraine's leaders of "waging war against their own people" and demanding that the UN Security Council immediately address Kiev's use of force.

Moscow has denied playing a role in the latest wave of violence and previously told Kiev that its armed response could ruin the chances of the two sides sitting down for US-EU mediated talks in Geneva on Thursday.

Everyone is in panic

Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced the launch of a counterstrike against the armed separatists in the eastern Donetsk region early on Sunday morning.

He said crack units from Ukraine's SBU security service moved first into the city of Slavyansk to regain control of a police station that had been seized by about 20 militants on Saturday.

But Avakov admitted that his troops had to "regroup" after meeting stiff resistance and suffering casualties.

"There are dead and wounded on both sides. On our side -- an SBU officer. The head of the SBU's anti-terrorist centre has been wounded, as have four others," Avakov wrote on his Facebook page.

"On side of the separatists -- an unidentified number. The separatists have started to protect themselves using human shields."

Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited one local protester as saying that a civilian had also been killed and two others injured.

The local administration separately reported a series of heavy clashes on a highway linking Slavyansk with the region's capital Donetsk to the south.

The Donetsk adminstration said one person was killed and four wounded in an "ongoing armed standoff" on a stretch of the road connecting Slavyansk and the town of Artemivsk.

The statement added that authorities were still checking to see "whose side the casualties were on".

Slavyansk residents meanwhile reported a run on stores and general panic among locals in the poor mining town of 100,000 people.

"By nine in the morning, the stores had run out of bread," 47-year-old Yelena told AFP as attack helicopters hovered overhead.

"Everyone is in panic. People are waiting for a war to break out."

Russia is complicit

Saturday's raids drew expressions of grave concern from world leaders and Russian warnings against any use of force against the militants.

The US State Department said John Kerry phoned his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Saturday to make "clear that if Russia did not take steps to deescalate in eastern Ukraine and move its troops back from Ukraine's border, there would be additional consequences".

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was "gravely concerned" and urged Russia to pull back its troops from the border and to "cease any further actions aimed at destabilising Ukraine".

Britain's Foreign Office on Sunday said the wave of occupations of government buildings was "a dangerous escalation".

"Assumptions that Russia is complicit are inevitable as long as Moscow does not publicly distance itself from these latest lawless actions.

And NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen agreed that the "reappearance of men with specialised Russian weapons and identical uniforms without insignia, as previously worn by Russian troops during Russia's illegal and illegitimate seizure of Crimea, is a grave development".

The latest unrest began last weekend when protesters seized the seat of government in Donetsk after similar actions in the eastern cities of Lugansk and Kharkiv.

The Donetsk protesters heavily fortified the building and announced the independence of the "Donetsk People's Republic" -- the flag of which has gone up over newly seized security buildings across the region.

But many of the pro-Russian protests have only drawn crowds of a few hundred and local polls showed the majority of citizens in the Russian-speaking east preferred to remain part of Ukraine.

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Mon, 14 Apr 2014 05:41:15 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/14531-russia-says-ukraine-waging-war-against-own-people
ELECTION DAY 2014: Partial Results http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14530-election-day-2014-partial-results alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Omid Farooqi discusses partial results with the head of IEC Secretariat Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhail.

To watch the programme, click here:

{youtube}r50cfo2m9_E{/youtube}

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Mon, 14 Apr 2014 04:13:07 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14530-election-day-2014-partial-results
FARAKHABAR: 13 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/14529-farakhabar-13-april-2014 alt

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Enayatullah Mudaris discusses IEC's announcement of partial results with former IEC Chief Fazl Ahmad Manawi.

To watch the programme, click here:

{youtube}r50cfo2m9_E{/youtube}

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Mon, 14 Apr 2014 04:10:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/14529-farakhabar-13-april-2014
ECC Receives More Than 3,000 Complaints http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14528-ecc-receives-more-than-3000-complaints

The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) officials said on Sunday that they have received 3,274 complaints regarding last week's election.

From the total complaints 1,017 of it was against election workers, 338 against presidential candidates, 537 against provincial council candidates and the remaining 699 complaints were miscellaneous issues.

From the 3,274 complaints only 1,892 were valid because of supporting evidence.

ECC officials said around 870 complaints have directly impacted the elections results.

Investigations are underway in 34 provinces throughout the country. So far the ECC has addressed 193 complaints.

Mohseni said as investigations are in progress complaints continue to increase, but lack of supporting documents are invalidating majority of these objections.

ECC officials have said the list of invalid ballot boxes will be sent to their offices by the Independent Elections Commission (IEC).

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Sun, 13 Apr 2014 15:35:20 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14528-ecc-receives-more-than-3000-complaints
Updated: Abdullah Leads the Partial Results http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14527-updated-abdullah-leads-the-partial-results- alt

Independent Elections Commission (IEC) officials announced on Sunday that Abdullah Abdullah is in the lead with only 10 percent of votes counted.

IEC Chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani said the results announced today count for 26 out of 34 provinces of Afghanistan, representing 500,000 of the estimated seven million ballots.

According to the results, Abdullah Abdullah is ahead with 41.9 percent with Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai trailing at 37.6 percent, Zalmai Rassoul in third with 9.8 percent and Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf falling behind with 5.1 percent.

In a press conference on Sunday, Abdullah Abdullah said Sunday's result is just a highlight for what is to come.

"These results are preliminary because results from eight other provinces are still missing," Abdullah said. "Today's result indicates that the election might not go into a second round."

Eight provinces were not included in the partial results. The provinces include: Paktika, Wardak, Ghazni, Badakhsha, Baghlan, Ghor, Nuristan and Daikondi.

Presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai said in a press conference on Sunday that the partial result included both valid and invalid votes.

"Today's result was a basic result," Ghani said. "The counted votes included a both clean and fraudulent vote, which needs to be differentiated, and I hope this is distinguished soon."

Ghani added that election commissions need to address the complaints soon because the results announced today included those objections filed on Election Day.

"Today's results were 10 percent of votes, but what was the total number of people who voted?" Ghani asked. "We request the IEC to release the total number of voters."

Nuristani said that 75 percent of votes nationwide have been received, but not counted for the partial result statement.

"For partial results we only counted 10 percent –500,000 votes—we are still counting the remaining votes for the final reveal," Nuristani said.

Nuristani added that it is too soon to talk about a second round of elections because they have not finished counting.

"This was just the partial results," he said.

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Sun, 13 Apr 2014 15:26:30 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14527-updated-abdullah-leads-the-partial-results-
TOLOnews 6pm News 13 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14526-tolonews-6pm-news-13-april-2014 altTop news in this Bulletin:

Independent Elections Commission (IEC) officials announced on Sunday that Abdullah Abdullah is in the lead with only 10 percent of votes counted.

{youtube}WdNgwbR3pRU{/youtube}

IEC Chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani said the results announced today count for 26 out of 34 provinces of Afghanistan, representing 500,000 of the estimated seven million ballots.

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Sun, 13 Apr 2014 15:17:48 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14526-tolonews-6pm-news-13-april-2014
ELECTION DAY 2014: Challenges and Optimisms ahead of Election http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14525-election-day-2014-challenges-and-optimisms-ahead-of-election alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Muslim Sherzad discusses the challenges and optimisms of election results with the following guests:

Guests:

Nazari Paryani, journalist

Dr Mohammad Akram Andishmand, political analyst and writer

Saleh Mohammad Registani, political analyst

Mohammad Amin Farhang, Ex-commerce minister

To watch the programme, click here:

{youtube}R-bGYbQC4tg{/youtube}

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Sun, 13 Apr 2014 09:25:56 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14525-election-day-2014-challenges-and-optimisms-ahead-of-election
TAKANI: Elections Results Prejudices http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/14524-takani-elections-results-prejudices alt

In this episode of Takani, host Shapoor Bakhtiyar discusses prejudices on election results and concerns about the actions of the electoral commissions with the following guests:

Monawar Shah Bahadori, MP

Haroon Mir, political analyst

Moen Mrastyal, Right and Justice party deputy

Abdullah Poyan, political analyst

To watch the programme, click here:

{youtube}svzLvyQvJg0{/youtube}

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE AR-SA MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

TAKANI: Elections Results Prejudices

In this episode of Takani, host Shapoor Bakhtiyar discusses prejudices on election results and concerns about the actions of the electoral commissions with the following guests:

Monawar Shah Bahadori, MP

Haroon Mir, political analyst

Moen Mrastyal, Right and Justice party deputy

Abdullah Poyan, political analyst

To watch the programme, click here:

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Sun, 13 Apr 2014 08:46:59 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/14524-takani-elections-results-prejudices
FARAKHABAR: 12 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/14523-farakhabar-12-april-2014 alt

The Lower House of Parliament on Saturday asked electoral commissions to limit fraud and conclude the election results fairly and neutrally.

Lower House Speaker Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi said the house will oversee the activities of both the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) making sure that the votes are not misused.

The news comes as the IEC announced Tuesday that they will release partial results of the elections by the end of the week.

What caused the postponement of the partial results?

Host Enayatullah Mudaris discusses the matter with the following guests:

Farhad Majidi, MP

Ahmad Sayede, political analyst

To watch the programme, click here:

{youtube}LmSJDXr6nYM{/youtube}

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Sun, 13 Apr 2014 08:00:55 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/14523-farakhabar-12-april-2014
13 Insurgents Arrested in Afghan Operations http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14522-13-insurgents-arrested-in-afghan-operations alt

The Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoIA) announced on Sunday that 13 insurgents have been arrested during a series of operations coordinated by Afghan forces in the past 24 hours.

In a statement released by the MoIA, "the Afghan National Police (ANP), Afghan National Army (ANA) and the National Directorate of Security (NDS), conducted several anti-terrorism joint operations in Kabul, Kandahar and Logar provinces."

The MoIA did not provide details about Afghan forces' casualties during the raids. And self-identified Taliban spokespeople have not yet commented on the operations.

The statement read: "During these operations, ANP discovered and confiscated light and heavy rounds of ammunition and IEDs in Laghman, Baghlan, Takhar, Sar-e-Pul, Kandahar, Logar and Paktika."

There are over 350,000 Afghan soldiers serving in the ANA at the moment, with thousands more in the academy. Some fresh recruits, not yet out of training, were reportedly deployed on Saturday to boost military presence in certain areas.

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Sun, 13 Apr 2014 07:45:27 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14522-13-insurgents-arrested-in-afghan-operations
Gunmen Seize Police Station in East Ukraine http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/14521-gunmen-seize-police-station-in-east-ukraine alt

A small group of gunmen on Saturday seized a police station in Ukraine's restive eastern industrial heartland amid escalating protests in favour of the heavily Russified region joining Kremlin rule.

Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said another group of gunmen also tried to take control of the Donetsk region's prosecutor's office but was repelled.

The early dawn raid on the police station happened in the town of Slavyansk - about 60 kilometres (35 miles) north of the regional capital Donetsk.

The Donetsk adminstration centre is already under the control of several hundred gunmen who have proclaimed the creation of their own "people's republic" and called on President Vladimir Putin to send Russian troops into eastern Ukraine.

"Armed men in camouflage fatigues have taken the police station in Slavyansk," Avakov wrote on his Facebook page. "Here, our response will be very severe."

A local police official told Kiev's private Channel Five television that the raid was staged by six men who had fired several shots into the air before storming the station.

It was not immediately clear how the local police responded to the attack or whether the gunmen had taken any hostages.

But Avakov said that Ukrainian special forces had been dispatched to the scene.

"There is zero tolerance for armed terrorists," he said.

The interior minister added that a separate group of assailants had tried to take control of the prosecutor's office building the regional capital Donetsk.

"They have all been expelled. The building has been clear of unauthorised personnel. Another self-declared defence minister has been arrested," he wrote.

An AFP reporter saw a heavy police presence around the prosecutor's office and the building under apparent government control.

State buildings still held

Avakov has emerged as one of the more hawkish ministers in the interim pro-Western leadership that toppled a Kremlin backed regime in Kiev in February and sought to link the ex-Soviet state's future with the West.

The interior minister had on Wednesday issued a veiled 48-hour ultimatum for the separatists holding the Donetsk government seat to lay down their arms or face the possible of use of force.

But no action followed and the Donetsk administration building along with a security office in the nearby city of Lugansk remained under the separatists' control for the sixth day running on Saturday.

Ukraine's embattled Prime Minister Arseniy Avakov had promised during an unannounced visit to Donetsk on Friday to grant more powers to the country's regions and never to clamp down on the east's right to use the Russian language.

"No one under any circumstances will restrict the use of a language that a person is accustomed to using," Yatsenyuk told local officials.

He also admitted that he "must respond to people's desire to have more regional authority."

"We will implement this task within the framework of constitutional reforms," said Yatsenyuk.

Kiev has previously said it was ready to grant more powers to the regions while stopping well short of creating the federation sought by Russia.

Yatsenyuk's attempt to end the occupations failed in part because both the Donetsk and Lugansk gunmen also want to stage an independence referendums coinciding with snap presidential polls Ukraine will stage on May 25.

Ukraine's new authorities reject that condition outright because a similar referendum last month in Crimea led to the Black Sea peninsula's seizure by Russia.

Russia's foreign ministry warned on Friday that Moscow would boycott the first round of international peace talks with Kiev that have been arranged by US and EU officials for Thursday should Ukraine use force against the militants.

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Sun, 13 Apr 2014 05:03:29 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/14521-gunmen-seize-police-station-in-east-ukraine
Lower House of Parliament: Limit fraud and Conclude fairly http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14520-lower-house-of-parliament-limit-fraud-and-conclude-fairly alt

The Lower House of Parliament on Saturday asked electoral commissions to limit fraud and conclude election results fairly and neutrally.

Lower House Speaker Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi said the house will oversee the activities of both the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) making sure that the votes are not misused.

The news comes as the IEC announced Tuesday that they will release partial results of the elections by the end of the week.

"We call on to the IEC and ECC to be careful of the people's decision about the election," Ibrahimi said. "Lawfully, the lower house has the right of overseeing their activities."

Member of Parliament Monawar Shah Bahadori warned the government and electoral commissions that wrongdoing the people of Afghanistan will not be tolerated.

"We warn the government and both electoral commissions that concocting fraud will not be acceptable, and we will not overlook our people's votes," Bahadori said.

According to IEC reports, more than seven million Afghans participated in the April 5 presidential and provincial councils elections.

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Sat, 12 Apr 2014 15:17:44 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14520-lower-house-of-parliament-limit-fraud-and-conclude-fairly
TOLOnews 6pm News 12 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14519-tolonews-6pm-news-12-april-2014 alt Top news in this Bulletin:

If the Money Laundering and Prevention from Financing Terrorism Law is not approved within the next three months, all Afghanistan bank accounts meaning transactions between international banks will be stopped, said officials of the Afghanistan Banks Union.

{youtube}mGp_J4yAt68{/youtube}

They add that this will seriously harm the trade and investment process of Afghanistan.

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Sat, 12 Apr 2014 14:43:46 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14519-tolonews-6pm-news-12-april-2014
Delay in Approval Of Money Laundering Law Creates Challenges http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/14518-delay-in-approval-of-money-laundering-law-creates-challenges alt

If Ban on Money Laundering and Prevention from Financing Terrorism Law is not approved within next three months, all accounts of Afghanistan banks will be closed with the international banks and transactions will stop, said officials at the Afghanistan Banks Union.

This will seriously harm the trade and investment process of Afghanistan.

"Addition of Afghanistan to the black list will create many domestic problems for Afghanistan, meaning that all our relations with foreign banks will be blocked, plus it will further damage Afghanistan reputation, I don't know why it is not being signed" Khalil Sediq, Head of Private Banks Union.

While criticizing Afghanistan Central Bank in drafting of the law, House of Representative members have said that the law will be approved soon.

"This issue is very dangerous to the trade and investment, although we have notified the Central Bank, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Trade from this problem, but they have ignored the issue" Munawar Shah Bahadori, House of Representative member from Herat.

"Central Bank Officials have acted really weak. In order to prevent any problems, we have asked the Head of Central Bank to come to the House of Representatives on Monday to give clarification in regards" Amir Khan Yar, Head of Financial, Budget and Private Banks Commission.

Ban on Money Laundering and Prevention from Financing Terrorism Law is an important law that prevents illegal money in the banks. Absence of the law will end relations of the banks with the International banks.

A number of economic analysts have called on government to take necessary actions.

"Considering that Afghanistan Banks are newly established, this law is very important. On the other hand, this law is very important for the International Community, absence of this law will harm us over time if not now. Government is responsible to address this problem" Feroz Khan Masjedi, Economic Professor at Kabul University.

Efforts were made to have views of the Central Bank officials, but second deputy of the bank calls it early to take about the issue and adds that, talks with the officials from the International Monetary Fund to resolve the problem.

Despite all, Afghanistan has three months to address this challenge.

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Sat, 12 Apr 2014 14:10:31 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/14518-delay-in-approval-of-money-laundering-law-creates-challenges
ELECTION DAY 2014: the Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14517-election-day-2014-the-process


In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Muslim Sherzad discusses the election process with the following guests:


•         Nader Mohseni, The Electoral Complaints Commission secretary

•         Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhil, head of the Independent Election Commission Secretariat

{youtube}S18CpJXiARY{/youtube}

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Sat, 12 Apr 2014 12:41:30 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14517-election-day-2014-the-process
PURSO PAL: Exclusive Interview With Abdul Ahad Mohmand http://www.tolonews.com/en/purso-pal/14516-purso-pal-exclusive-interview-with-abdul-ahad-mohmand

To watch Muslim Shirzad's exclusive interview with Abdul Ahad Mohmand, the first Afghan astronaut, click here:

{youtube}ECfh6PlEbNk{/youtube}

 

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Sat, 12 Apr 2014 12:30:27 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/purso-pal/14516-purso-pal-exclusive-interview-with-abdul-ahad-mohmand
14 Insurgents Killed in Afghan Operations http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14515-14-insurgents-killed-in-afghan-operations alt

At least 14 insurgents were killed and nine others injured during a series of coordinated operations conducted by Afghan forces over the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoIA) announced on Saturday.

Six others were said to have been arrested in the operations.

In a statement released by the MoIA, "the Afghan National Police (ANP), Afghan National Army (ANA) and the National Directorate of Security (NDS), conducted several anti-terrorism joint operations in Paktika, Kandahar, Logar, and Ghazni provinces."

The MoIA did not provide details about Afghan forces' casualties during the raids. And self-identified Taliban spokespeople have not yet commented on the operations.

The statement read that "during these operations, ANP discovered and confiscated light and heavy rounds of ammunition and IEDs."

Afghan and foreign officials have praised the Afghan security forces for their resilient responsibility during last Saturday's elections. With barely any violence around the country -on a day the Taliban had promised to attack officials, voters and polling sites- the reinforcements distributed nationwide and with additional precautionary measures taken by the security forces have paid off.

There are over 350,000 Afghan soldiers serving in the ANA at the moment, with thousands more in the academy. Some fresh recruits, not yet out of training, were reportedly deployed on Saturday to boost military presence in certain areas.

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Sat, 12 Apr 2014 09:33:23 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14515-14-insurgents-killed-in-afghan-operations
Afghanistan vs. Kyrgyzstan in Friendly Football Match http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/14514-afghanistan-vs-kyrgyzstan-in-friendly-football-match alt

The Afghan National Football Team will face Kyrgyzstan in a friendly match on Sunday April 13 in Dubai.

This friendly match is amid preparation for the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup beginning on May 19 in the Maldives.

The Afghan football team has trained and held several competitions in Kabul before Sunday's match giving them enough time to practice for Sunday's match.

Coach Mohammad Yousef Kargar said the game will offer him the opportunity to evaluate the country's top players and select who will play in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup.

"We are holding this match to prepare the boys better," Kargar said. "The match was requested by the Kyrgyzstan Football Federation in Dubai."

Kargar also added that they have a friendly match against Tajikstan in Dushanbe. He said this will help him select the 23 talented bodies for the Challenge Cup that is a month away.

The match will kick-off at about 06:20 p.m. Kabul time and 05:50 p.m. in Dubai. TOLO and Lamer TV will be broadcast the match live.

This is not Afghanistan's first time facing Kyrgyzstan. They played back in 2003 and 2008 with Afghanistan winning both matches.

The 2014 AFC Challenge Cup will be held in the Maldives from May 19 to May 30. The winners will earn a seat in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

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Sat, 12 Apr 2014 09:19:00 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/14514-afghanistan-vs-kyrgyzstan-in-friendly-football-match
US Prods World's Nations, Institutions for Ukraine Aid http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/14513-us-prods-worlds-nations-institutions-for-ukraine-aid alt

The United States on Friday urged the international community to contribute more to Ukraine's economic rescue, stressing the "immediate" need to fund a huge IMF program for Kiev.

"The United States is bolstering the IMF program through a complementary aid package, which includes a $1 billion loan guarantee and additional technical assistance," Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a statement to the IMF.

"It is critical that the international community -- multilateral development banks and bilaterals -- take immediate steps to also support the IMF program by providing financing support, given the sizeable financing needs."

As Ukraine's economy foundered under a new government and threats from neighboring Russia last month, the International Monetary Fund announced a rescue program of $14-18 billion to stabilize the country's crumpled finances and help restore growth.

Contributions from the US, Europe and elsewhere raised the total package to $27 billion, but Lew's call suggested the group sees a need to widen the sources of aid.

The IMF board will review the Ukraine financing plan, which requires tough reforms and a austerity measures on the part of the government, at the end of April or beginning of March.

Previous governments in Kiev have a poor record of implementing IMF requirements under earlier aid programs. but Lew said the US is "encouraged by the Ukrainian authorities' resolve to take the necessary steps so secure this support."

Reza Moghadam, director of the IMF's European Department, said they were hoping for more contributions from others "so we don't have to put as much."

"The $27 billion is a fairly firm number. Our exact financing will depend on how much comes from other bilateral and multilateral donors."

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Sat, 12 Apr 2014 06:04:11 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/14513-us-prods-worlds-nations-institutions-for-ukraine-aid
Prejudgments on Elections Riggings to be Avoided: ECC http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14510-prejudgments-on-elections-riggings-to-be-avoided-ecc alt
Secretary of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), Nadir Mohseni, said on Friday that there is no doubt that illegal acts, such as stuffing ballot boxes, have happened in the elections, but the scale of it was not as high as previous elections.

Mohseni said the details and number of frauds will be clarified after investigations are completed.

The ECC has begun assessing over 1,343 registered complaints in the past two days. 

ECC reports indicate that from the total number of complaints, 274 complaints have been filed against the presidential candidates, 655 complaints against the provincial council candidates, and 923 complaints against the Independent Election Commission (IEC) staff.

"Many people have not even filled the complaint forms or submitted the necessary evidence and documents to file complaints," Mohseni said.

Previously, the head of ECC said that the possibility of large scale riggings could undermine election results.

Mohseni says that prejudgment on the issue of election riggings must be avoided.

"We have received complaints regarding riggings in many provinces, but the scale seems much lower than previous elections," he said. "We can discuss the scale of riggings and whether or not they undermine the results of elections after finishing our assessments."

IEC argues that the 2014 election was much better than the past ones.

"Now is not the time to make a statement regarding riggings," IEC Spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said. "As we have said before, fraud has happened, but the scale is not clear. Our reports from the provinces reveal that the riggings will not affect the election results."

ECC hopes that the investigations are completed simultaneously with the partial result announcement.

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Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:54:40 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14510-prejudgments-on-elections-riggings-to-be-avoided-ecc
Majority of Election Result Sheets Arrived Kabul http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14509-majority-of-election-result-sheets-arrived-kabul alt

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) reported on Friday that 80 percent of election result sheets have arrived to their central office.

The result sheets arrived in 5,156 security boxes from 13 provinces. The remaining results are to arrive in the upcoming days. IEC is responsible for the review of these documents.

"So far, 84% of the result sheets have arrived to the central office and have been collected. Most of these materials are under process. We can say that 84% of these materials end up to have 5156 TB" Noor Muhammad Noor, IEC Spokesman.

The result sheets were first delivered from districts to the provincial IEC offices and to the IEC headquarters in Kabul afterwards.

"Result sheets have arrived from 13 provinces to IEC head office. Only three provinces are remaining and that is due to their small percentage that is also in the process of transfer" Noor added.

IEC will announce the primary election results on April 24 and the final results on May 14.

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Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:31:18 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14509-majority-of-election-result-sheets-arrived-kabul
TOLOnews 6pm News 11 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14508-tolonews-6pm-news-11-april-2014 alt Top news in this Bulletin:

Everyone in the U.S. administration thought Afghanistan is moving toward crisis, but the peaceful election process proved otherwise, Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and Head of the American Academy of Diplomacy, Ronald Neumann said.

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According to international and national observers the election would have been successful even if only 50 percent of the eligible people vote. However, over seven million people--of the 12 million eligible to vote-- took part in the elections.

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Fri, 11 Apr 2014 12:28:39 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14508-tolonews-6pm-news-11-april-2014
Farza Villagers Optimistic about Election Results http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14507-farza-villagers-optimistic-about-election-results alt

Afghans want the government to protect people's votes and maintain the credibility and legitimacy of the April 5 elections.

TOLOnews correspondent Azim Arasha interviewed some people in Farza district of Kabul province. Majority of the villagers stated that they have voted in the elections and expect the electoral bodies to use all means in protecting the legitimacy of the polling.

"I trusted the government and voted. I hope that the government does not harm our trust and our votes are not wasted," a villager from Farza district, Hedayat said.

The massive election turnout has been associated with people's exhaustion of the current crisis and hopes for change.

"People participated in the elections with enthusiasm to bring positive change to their lives," a tribal elder from Farza, Dil Agha said. "The electoral bodies must protect people's votes by identifying the fake votes from the genuine votes."

The Farza villagers are optimistic that the government and electoral bodies will accomplish their tasks with sincerity and honesty.

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Fri, 11 Apr 2014 12:14:04 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14507-farza-villagers-optimistic-about-election-results
Afghanistan Moving Toward Development: Neumann http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14506-afghanistan-moving-toward-development-neumann alt

Everyone in the U.S. administration thought Afghanistan is moving toward crisis, but the peaceful election process proved otherwise, Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and Head of the American Academy of Diplomacy, Ronald Neumann said.

"There were people in the U.S. administration who said that everything is moving toward crisis. They should see how Afghans went to vote despite the threats and raining," Neumann said. "American must know that there has been development in Afghanistan."

According to international and national observers the election would have been successful even if only 50 percent of the eligible people vote. However, over seven million people--of the 12 million eligible to vote-- took part in the elections.

Kabul residents have praised the peaceful election, calling it a great achievement for the Afghan Security Forces (ASF).

"Afghanistan held elections successfully. We are happy with it and hope there is no fraud during the vote-count," Kabul resident Nader said.

"This election was much more transparent compared to the last two," Kabul resident Muhammad Fazel said. "ASF were very well-prepared."

Prior to the elections, many doubted the capacity of ASF; they believed that maintaining the country's security would be impossible without the foreign troops.

ASF preparations and the massive election turnout illustrated the country's dire interest in a peaceful transition of power.

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Fri, 11 Apr 2014 12:04:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14506-afghanistan-moving-toward-development-neumann
Observers Ask IEC to Maintain Neutrality http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14504-observers-ask-iec-to-maintain-neutrality alt

Presidential and provincial council election observers asked the Afghanistan Independent Election Commission (IEC) to act neutrally and responsibly during the vote-count process on Thursday.

The observers added that people's wide participation and the presence of observers and media in the election process have contributed to ensuring less instances of fraud compared to last elections. The observers urge, however, that any negligence and imprecision in reviewing election complaints could take Afghanistan to crisis.

"There are concerns that any mistake by the election commission could lead to larger political crisis and devastate the country," former head of IEC Fazel Ahmad Manawi said. "Ignoring people's concerns could negatively impact Afghanistan and its neighbors."

"People trusted the process and voted," head of Free and Fair Election Association (FEFA), Nader Naderi said. "It is now the responsibility of the election commission, observing institutions and media to closely review and count the votes and maintain people's trust."

Analysts have stated that the 2014 election has witnessed few instances of fraud compared to the 2009 election--when over one million votes were casted fraudulently in favor of particular candidates. This has resulted in people's growing optimism about the election results.

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Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:19:50 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14504-observers-ask-iec-to-maintain-neutrality
TOLOnews 6pm News 10 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14505-tolonews-6pm-news-10-april-2014 alt Top news in this Bulletin:

Presidential and provincial council election observers asked the Afghanistan Independent Election Commission (IEC) to act neutrally and responsibly during the vote-count process on Thursday.

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The observers added that people's wide participation and the presence of observers and media in the election process have contributed to ensuring less instances of fraud compared to last elections. The observers urge, however, that any negligence and imprecision in reviewing election complaints could take Afghanistan to crisis.

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Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:19:07 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14505-tolonews-6pm-news-10-april-2014
IEC Promises Transparency in Counting Process http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14503-iec-promises-transparency-in-counting-process alt

The Afghanistan Independent Election Commission (IEC) promises transparency in gathering election results. IEC claims to use modern computer systems--not even common in some developed countries-- to gather the election results.

The commission asserts that their vote-count methods would be transparent and leave no room for fraud.

According to IEC, the computer systems used will prevent IEC employees from any attempts of fraudulent acts.

"We use the exact same system as some of the most modern banks around the world. Any fraud would make the system alarm go off," IEC spokesman Noor Muhammad Noor said. "We assure the people of Afghanistan that the votes will go to whomever they belong to."

Once information from the result sheets are saved in the system, they will be part of a special archive.

IEC has been able to move forward without any challenges thus far, according to officials.

Based on the election timeline, IEC will announce the primary election results on May 24 and the final results on May 14.

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Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:10:59 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14503-iec-promises-transparency-in-counting-process
NDS Arrests 262 Insurgents Plotting to Sabotage Elections http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14502-nds-arrests-262-insurgents-plotting-to-sabotage-elections alt

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) arrested 262 insurgents and prevented major chaos in the country, a spokesman to the Afghan intelligence office, Lotfullah Mashal said on Thursday.

The conspiracies were formulated in a joint cooperation among the Haqqani Network, Jundullah, and Afghan and Pakistani Taliban.

The April 5 presidential and provincial councils elections were held despite the threats and intimidations by the insurgent groups. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) worked tirelessly to provide better security to the voting process. The NDS arrested the insurgents over the last two months.

"We arrested 262 people from 23 provinces who intended to conduct explosions, suicide bombings, armed attacks and roadside explosions around the polling centers," NDS spokesman Loftullah Mashal said. "We also confiscated 65 vehicles, rocket launchers, ammonium nitrate, mortars and chemicals all of which are used in explosions."

Pakistani religious Madrasas were closed and many insurgents intended to come in Afghanistan to sabotage the elections, but the ANSF reacted effectively to the plots.

The arrests were conducted by the NDS, the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police.

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Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:05:24 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14502-nds-arrests-262-insurgents-plotting-to-sabotage-elections
IEC Prepares to Announce Partial Election Results http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14501-iec-prepares-to-announce-partial-election-results alt

Up to 25,000 protective bags, constituting 45 percent of the election results, have been delivered to the National Results Center in Kabul, a spokesman to the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC), Noor Mohammad Noor said on Thursday.

The commission asserted that the votes from polling centers that have been subject to fraud and riggings would be quarantined in presence of observers and and monitors.

Forty five percent of the overall ballot papers have been delivered to the IEC headquarter in Kabul. Of the 2903 bags, 2600 have been added to the IEC database.

The people of Afghanistan defied all insurgent threats with their wide participation in the April 5 elections. The vote turnout was much higher than anticipated.

"Sensitive election materials from all parts of the country-- except four districts-- have reached the provincial offices. So far, we have not faced any problems while transferring the materials, " Noor said. "2600 protective bags containing the results have been added to our database. We are almost ready to announce the partial results."

This year's election was subject to less instances of fraud and rigging compared to the pervious one.

"Our provincial headquarters have identified the ballots of the centers that have been subject to riggings because of the absence of election monitors," Noor added. "We will announce the statistics later. Only IEC is authorized to decide whether these sites are quarantined."

The presidential candidates are enthusiastically waiting for the election results, as IEC prepares to announce the country's next president.

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Thu, 10 Apr 2014 14:54:26 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14501-iec-prepares-to-announce-partial-election-results
Observers Criticize Electoral Bodies http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14500-observers-criticize-electoral-bodies alt

In response to assertions of the chief of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) on Thursday said that any premature statement on the issue of election riggings is an insult to people and the election observers.

The ECC assertions were followed by reactions from voters as well as national election observer institutions.

The head of Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) had claimed that massive riggings happened in the elections. This is while the election observers maintain that the scale of riggings was actually low.

TEFA has strongly criticized prejudgment on the issue of riggings and said that such statements would confuse the people of Afghanistan.

"In some way, there is a psychological war going on. They are trying to confuse public minds," TEFA head Mohammad Naeem Ayoubzada said. "If this continues, the massive election turnout and the jobs of observers would be questioned. It is better that ECC acts practical and not make such statements."
According to TEFA, the 2014 presidential elections were much better as compared to the 2009 elections.

"According to some of the statistics, the election was subject to 3,000 cases of fraud. However, there is no proof for this. We must only talk on the basis of documentation," Ayoubzada added.

"Prejudgment should be avoided in all cases," FEFA spokesman Mohammad Fahim Naeemi said. "They [the electoral bodies] must talk on the basis of transparent investigations so that the public mindset is not confused."

A number of voters have expressed skepticism about the assertions regarding the riggings, considering that the vote-count has yet to end.

"The riggings were not in the same scale as those during the previous elections," Kabul resident Nisar Ahamd Haqjo said.

"If they do not have any evidence and the vote count has not ended, how could they make claims about riggings," Kabul resident Ghulam jan said.

"Candidates' observers were present in the centers. If there were riggings, they would have been registered," another Kabul resident Frozan said.

"Inshallah, the elections were held properly, we did not see any major issues during the elections," Kabul resident Ahamd Rashid said.

About seven million people voted in the April 5 elections. The massive turnout and the presence of domestic and international observers are some of the highlights of the 2014 elections.

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Thu, 10 Apr 2014 14:38:16 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/election-2014/14500-observers-criticize-electoral-bodies
ELECTION DAY 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14499-election-day-2014 alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93 host Muslim Sherzad discusses people's expectations from the next government, and current opportunities and challenges, with the following guests:

Guests are:

Abdul Qayoum Sajadi, university lecturer

Arif Sarwari, former NDS chief

Abdul Ghafoor Lewal, head of Afghanistan's Regional Studies Center

Shukria Barakzai, MP

To watch the programme, click here:

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Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:32:51 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14499-election-day-2014
TAKANI: Fraud and its Effect on Elections Results http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/14498-takani-fraud-and-its-effect-on-elections-results alt

In this episode of Takni host Shapoor Bakhtiyar discusses fraud and its effects on the election results with the following guests:

Nadir Mohsini, ECC commissioner

Noor Mohammad Noor, IEC spokesman

Aziz Royesh, Dr Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai's representative

Jaweed Faisal, Dr Zalmai Rassoul's representative

Fazl Rahman Oria, Dr Abdullah Abdullah's representative

To watch the programme, click here:

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Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:28:33 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/takani-/14498-takani-fraud-and-its-effect-on-elections-results
FARAKHABAR: 09 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/14497-farakhabar-09-april-2014 alt

In this episode of Farakhabar host Enayatullah Mudaris discusses fraud in elections process with the following guests:

Walid Akbar Sarwari, Deputy Secretariat for Electoral Complaints Commission

Naeem Asghari, FEFA program manager

To watch the programme, click here:

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Thu, 10 Apr 2014 05:39:57 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/14497-farakhabar-09-april-2014
21 Injured In Mass Stabbing At US High School http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14496-21-injured-in-mass-stabbing-at-us-high-school alt

An American student brandishing two knives stabbed 20 teenagers and a security guard in a bloody rampage in the classrooms and hallways of a Pennsylvania high school Wednesday, officials said.

At least four fellow students were critically injured in the assault at Franklin Regional High School, said Thomas Seefeld, chief of police in Murrysville, an outer suburb of Pittsburgh.

The 16-year-old boy walked down a hallway wielding two knives eight to 10 inches (up to 25 centimeters) long, stabbing fellow pupils and the guard as they began arriving for the school day, police said.

Panicked students rushed for the exit and one reportedly set off the fire alarm, but 20 pupils and one male security guard were injured, mostly in the chest and stomach, officials confirmed.

The school principal and another member of staff overpowered the suspect, who was arrested within five minutes of police officers being alerted by radio, police said.

The motive of the attack was not immediately clear.

One student described the suspect as "shy" and told CNN that he was "very quiet" while carrying out the assault.

"He just was kind of doing it and he had this look on his face that he was just crazy and he was just running around just stabbing everyone who was in his way," she told CNN.

She spoke of seeing at least two students gushing blood, one from his chest and a girl from the arm.

"I started hearing like a stampede of students coming down from the other end of the hall screaming, 'Get out, we need to leave, go, there is a kid with a knife,'" she said.

The assailant, who sustained an injured hand, has not been named although Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said he would in all likelihood be charged as an adult.

FBI and state police have been drafted in to assist with what is now expected to be a lengthy investigation.

Peck outlined the possible charges as aggravated assault and, in cases of serious injury, possible criminal attempt to commit homicide.

Doctor Mark Rubino at Forbes Regional Hospital, which is treating eight of the victims, said he expected everyone to survive, despite what he called "deep penetrating" stab wounds.

The knife wounds caused significant injuries to internal organs, Rubino said.

"Three of the patients had severe injuries and are still in the operating room right now. And two of them are in critical condition, but they have stabilized," Rubino said.

"The other five that we had are still being evaluated, of whom one or two may require further surgery."

- Praise for teachers -

Dan Stevens, a spokesman for Westmoreland County emergency management, told AFP that the teenage victims were aged 14 to 17.

The incident lasted from 7:13 am to 7:45 am, he said.

They were attacked in "numerous classrooms and hallways" of the school, Stevens added.

Wednesday's attack comes after a long and frequent line of US school shootings that have inflamed a nationwide debate over gun control in the United States.

But even the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 young children and six adults were shot dead, ultimately failed to tighten gun ownership rules.

The police chief Seefeld praised school staff, who worked in close coordination with police and who were well versed in emergency procedure.

"It is my opinion that today, as unfortunate as it is... I think that it could have been a lot worse if there was not immediate interaction that occurred," he told reporters.

Franklin Regional High will be closed for several days.

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Thu, 10 Apr 2014 02:33:38 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14496-21-injured-in-mass-stabbing-at-us-high-school
MPs Demand Investigations into Poll Riggings http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14495-mps-demand-investigations-into-poll-riggings
alt

Legislators said on Wednesday that many people were prevented from voting in the elections because of ballot shortages and that the Independent Election Commission (IEC) must answer as to why this happened.

"They must be summoned to parliament and explain why they had taken such decisions that led to challenges during elections," Member of Parliament from Zabul province, Hamidullah Tokhi, said.

Alongside this challenge, MPs praised the security forces for their duties during Election Day and urged that parliament must honor them because they were the reason that people came out to vote.

"The parliament administrative board will undertake necessary measures to invite Minister of Interior, Minister of Defense and NDS chief to the house so that we can honor the endeavors of the Afghan security forces during elections," parliament speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said.

Head of Parliamentary Commission for Internal Security Mir Dad Khan Nejrabi says honoring the security forces should be stalled because there needs to be clarification on what extent security forces engaged in riggings. After investigating this case, then it would be proper to appreciate their duties.

"In some areas security forces have filled ballot boxes," Nejrabi said. "We must investigate this first before honoring their services. And we must not hurry the investigation process either."

Ghazni MP, Arifullah Rahmani, agrees with Nejrabi stating that the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) must investigate these cases of fraud.

"The ECC must seriously investigate into the cases of frauds," Rahmani said.

In response to allegations, chairman of the IEC of Afghanistan Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani said violations reported during the election process involved local powerbrokers, as well as government and IEC employees.

"We must acknowledge and address where fraud and violations took place," Nuristani said. "People must not distort results with premature speculations."

The ECC states that candidates held over 320 events around the country during campaign season. And deny that they have withheld any information from the public, saying that officials were unable to prevent fraud on Election Day.

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Wed, 09 Apr 2014 15:49:08 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14495-mps-demand-investigations-into-poll-riggings
Afghans Want Peace No Matter Who Wins Election http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14494-afghans-want-peace-no-matter-who-wins-election alt

Common talk nowadays in Afghanistan is who the next president will be. Many residents are on their tip-toes anticipating the outcome of Election Day.

While many are pleased with the secure and peaceful holding of Election Day, Afghans across the nation are asking that election institutions be fair and honest in counting ballots.

Residents in the district of Istalif, located in Kabul, say they will accept whatever outcome, even if the winning candidate is not who they voted for, as long as the counting process is transparent.

"They should not cheat, instead everyone must accept the will of God," Sardar, a shopkeeper in Istalif, said.

With similar outlooks as Sardar, others in Istalif ask for a brighter future for their country no matter who the winner is.

"I want my vote to be valid and safe; meaning no one should be given a chance to commit wrong," Anwar, a farmer in Istalif, said. "Whoever wins, I will accept it. It doesn't matter if it's Abdullah, Zalmai or Ghani. I will accept it with pleasure."

Another resident of Istalif, Abdul Rahim Peeri, a construction worker, said he is pleased with the turnout of the elections, but asks the people of Afghanistan to respect the outcome.

"Whoever IEC announces as the winner we should accept it and others will too," Peeri said. "There must be peace."

The presidential and provincial council elections were held successfully on April 5. The public now waits for the announcement of the winner, but encourage each another to accept the result.

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Wed, 09 Apr 2014 15:29:47 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14494-afghans-want-peace-no-matter-who-wins-election
Citizen Monitoring Comes to Light, Officials Promise to Honor Vote http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14493-citizen-monitoring-comes-to-light-officials-promise-to-honor-vote alt

New evidence has come to light indicating that across the country average citizens took it upon themselves to help prevent electoral fraud during last weekend's vote.

Meanwhile, at a press conference on Wednesday, election officials openly conceded that there was a significant amount of irregularities in the elections, but promised to be honest in determining the results.

Footage received by TOLOnews this week shows Afghans guarding guarding polling centers over night to prevent ballot box stuffing after the elections concluded on Saturday, as well as local residents stopping a vehicle from stealing away ballots.

Although Saturday's historic elections have been praised for their high turnout and the lack of Taliban violence, in recent days, new information about more extensive voter fraud and ballot box stuffing than was previously suspected has come to light. The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) has reportedly received thousands of complaints of violations from around the country.

Nevertheless, Afghan and foreign observers have been decidedly positive about the level of fraud this year's vote faced in comparison to the last presidential election in 2009.

"Our people voted in these elections with complete awareness, they not only voted as voters, but also played the role of observers, and closely monitored the elections," Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) chairman Nadir Nadiri said.

On Saturday, Twitter and Facebook saw many reports from journalists and average citizens alike about fraud. On a couple of occasions, Minister of Interior Umer Daudzai even engaged Twitter users who were reporting fraud in an attempt to gather details for follow-up investigations.

"We saw that in many places people prevented rigging," kabul resident Nasir Ahmad told TOLOnews on Wednesday.

While Afghans' defiance against the Taliban's threats to violently disrupt the elections and target those who participated has been widely discussed, there also seems to be a widespread refusal to let fraud hijack the vote, which stands in stark contrast to the resigned attitude many commentators seemed to expect from Afghans leading up to Saturday.

"I don't want the credibility of the elections to be questioned," Baghlan resident Hajji Gul Agha told TOLOnews.

Officials from the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and ECC have vowed to respect the public's determination to make the elections a success, and ensure the vote counting process is honest and transparent.

ECC head Abdul Sattar Saadat on Wednesday called on the IEC to isolate fake votes from authentic ones, no matter how many it turns out to be.

"Let's say it honestly to the people that the elections were rigged and the fraud was extensive," ECC chairman Abdul Sattar Saadat said. "The election commission is responsible for separating fake and original votes, God for bid, the election commission does not execute this task properly."

Although members of the IEC staff are reportedly chief among those implicated in complaints of electoral violations that the ECC has received, the Commission's head, Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, has assured the public that he fully intends on implementing the law and announcing a trustworthy result.

"We have made it clear that we will introduce IEC staff found guilty of rigging," Nuristani said, referring to the process of prosecution overseen by the Attorney General's office. "Investigations must be launched in areas where rigging occurred and that is the responsibility of the commissions."

Election officials have also spoken out to candidates, urging them not to speculate on the results or incite unrest over claims of fraud.

"We request that candidates and the people not make prejudgments," Nuristani said on Wednesday.

Many are still anxious about the Taliban as a threat to the new government, which will take over after over a decade of the Hamid Karzai administration, which received far more aid from the international community than is expected in the coming years. Experts believe the political transition could unravel if the lead candidates refuse to accept the results announced by election officials.

Preliminary vote counts are expected to be publicized in the coming weeks, with the final results not to be released until May 15.

Ballots and results from at least 18 provinces have reached the IEC's headquarters in Kabul and the materials from the other 16 provinces are supposed to reach the capital by the end of the week.

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Wed, 09 Apr 2014 15:19:07 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14493-citizen-monitoring-comes-to-light-officials-promise-to-honor-vote
TOLOnews 6pm News 09 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14492-tolonews-6pm-news-09-april-2014 alt Top news in this Bulletin:

House of Representative members are delaying the ratification of the Law on Mines because of personal interests and motives, according to the officials at the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI).

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"Personal interests of some House of Representative members would be threatened if the mining law is ratified," Public Relation official at ACCI, Hashem Rasooli said.tolo

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Wed, 09 Apr 2014 15:07:26 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/video/14492-tolonews-6pm-news-09-april-2014
MPs Delay Mining Law Ratification http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14491-mps-delay-mining-law-ratification alt

House of Representative members are delaying the ratification of the Law on Mines because of personal interests and motives, according to the officials at the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI).

"Personal interests of some House of Representative members would be threatened if the mining law is ratified," Public Relation official at ACCI, Hashem Rasooli said.

Furthermore, some House of Representative members also blame the lower house Administrative Committee for not introducing the bill to the general assembly.

"Because of the Administrative Committee's lack of attention and interest, ratification of the mining law has been included on the agenda," a member of the Economic Committee in the House of Representatives, Habeeba Danesh, said.

Meanwhile, economic analysts have asserted that the delay in ratifying the mining law has discouraged many potential investors from investing in the country.

"If the mining law is not ratified soon, illegal extraction of minerals will continue to negatively impact the country," Kabul University Professor Reza Farzam said.

The Law of Mines was sent to the parliament last June. However, despite its potential to attract investors, the law has not been presented to the House yet.

The Natural Resource and Environment Committee of the House of Representatives has recently discussed presenting the bill to the House in two weeks time.

"We plan to put the mining law on the agenda for the last week of April," member of Natural Resources and Environment Committee of the House of Representatives, Obaidullah Ramin, said.

Reports from Afghanistan's Ministry of Mines indicates that investments in the country's mines are pending upon the ratification of the mining law.

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Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:59:56 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14491-mps-delay-mining-law-ratification
ELECTION DAY 2014: What does April 5th mean? http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14490-election-day-2014-what-does-april-5th-mean- alt

In this episode of Entekhabat 93, host Enayatullah Mudaris discusses the historic events of April 5 as well as their implications for the future with the following guests:

Mahboba Saraj, women rights activist

Hossai Wardak, civil society activist

Abdul Mujeeb Khilwatgar, NAI Director

Shah Hussain Murtazawi, journalist

To watch the programme, click here:

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Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:33:14 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/miscellaneous-category/14490-election-day-2014-what-does-april-5th-mean-
FARAKHABAR: 08 April 2014 http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/14489-farakhabar-08-april-2014 alt

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Enayatullah Mudaris discusses the elections and their effects on the Afghan economy with the following guests:

Sayed Massoud, university lecturer

Ahmad Tawfiq Dawari, Government Relation and Policy Director (ACCI)

To watch the programme, click here:

{youtube}FT8fhjMeexI{/youtube}

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Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:28:27 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/farah-khabare/14489-farakhabar-08-april-2014
35 Insurgents Killed in Afghan Operations http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14487-35-insurgents-killed-in-afghan-operations alt

At least 35 insurgents were killed and six others injured during a series of coordinated operations conducted by Afghan forces over the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoIA) announced on Wednesday.

Nineteen others were said to have been arrested in the operations.

"The Afghan National Police (ANP), Afghan National Army (ANA) and the National Directorate of Security (NDS), or intelligence service, conducted several anti-terrorism joint operations in Nangarhar, Balkh, Kandahar, Logar, Ghazni and Kunar provinces," the Ministry's statement said.

The MoIA did not provide details about Afghan forces casualties during the raids. And self-identified Taliban spokespeople have not yet commented on the operations.

Afghan and foreign officials have praised the Afghans security forces for their performance during last Saturday's elections. With barely any violence around the country, on a day the Taliban had promised to attack officials, voters and polling sites, the reinforcements distributed around the country and additional precautionary measures taken by the security forces seem to have paid off.

Security officials in Kabul specifically pointed to the effectiveness of coordination between the various arms of the Afghan security forces.

There are over 350,000 Afghan soldiers serving in the ANA at the moment, with thousands more in the pipeline at academy. Some fresh recruits, not yet out of training, were reportedly deployed on Saturday to boost military presence in certain areas.

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Wed, 09 Apr 2014 08:08:51 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14487-35-insurgents-killed-in-afghan-operations
IED Kills Two, Injures Nine in Ghazni http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14486-ied-kills-two-injures-nine-in-ghazni alt

At least two civilians were killed and nine others, including women and children, were injured by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in southern Ghazni province on Tuesday night, local officials said.

The incident took place in the Gilan district of the province, when a civilian vehicle struck a hidden roadside bomb, said Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, the Deputy Governor of Ghazni.

"The mine was placed by Taliban insurgents on Election Day and it killed and injured innocent civilians," he said.

The victims have been taken to the nearby hospital for emergency care

On Monday evening, at least 15 unarmed men were killed by a roadside bomb while traveling in southern Kandahar province.

The blast came after a relatively calm weekend in which no major attacks were reported as Afghans voted for a new president and provincial council members.

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Wed, 09 Apr 2014 07:17:25 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/14486-ied-kills-two-injures-nine-in-ghazni