TOLOnews.com RSS Feed http://tolonews.com/ Wed, 02 Sep 2015 02:10:54 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) Haqqani Member Jailed Under Fake Name For Two Years http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21196-haqqani-member-jailed-under-fake-name-for-two-years

One of the suspected Haqqani members arrested in Kabul recently by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) is believed to have been imprisoned in Pul-eCharkhi Prison under a false name for two years.


Documents uncovered by TOLOnews reveal that Israr Ahmad, an insurgent leader, was sentenced to six years in prison in 2012 after being found to be in possession of explosives and suicide vests. He was however pardoned by former president Hamid Karzai last year and freed.

"I was recruited by the Taliban group four years ago through my cousin who was famous as Almas. Then I was arrested with explosives and suicide vests and I was sentenced to six years in prison," said Israr Ahmad.
"I spent two years and two months in Pul-e-Charkhi Prison and then I was released."

TOLOnews reporter, Tamim Hamid who visited Pul-e-Charkhi Prison, checked the list of names of prisoners over the past few years. He was not able to find Israr Ahmad's name but did find the fake name he was supposedly registered under.
According to the reporter, they found his name by searching for Ahmad's father's name and other details.

Prison officials also confirmed that Ahmad was released following a decree by Karzai, which he issued during his last days in office.

"Israr Ahmad aka Naeem or Qudratullah. Who is he and how could he beguile security forces by using two or three names? How was he included in the presidential decree in pardoning prisoners?" asked Rafiullah Bidar Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission spokesman.

"We want a complete justice process in this regard. The decision should be made justly in order to safeguard citizen's rights," he said.

 To watch the whole report, click here:

{youtube}pQ_s1CkcE10{/youtube}

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Tue, 01 Sep 2015 15:07:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21196-haqqani-member-jailed-under-fake-name-for-two-years
TOLOnews 6pm News 01 September 2015 http://www.tolonews.com/en/6pm-news-bulletin/21195-tolonews-6pm-news-01-september-2015 Top news in this Bulletin:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Tuesday said it is ready to host the sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) which is scheduled to start on Thursday.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:

{youtube}qIEKr_dDecQ{/youtube}


Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday strongly condemned corruption and called for a national Jihad to fight the scourge that has gripped the country.

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Tue, 01 Sep 2015 14:57:10 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/6pm-news-bulletin/21195-tolonews-6pm-news-01-september-2015
Pakistan Rejects US Accusations Over Haqqani http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21194-pakistan-rejects-us-accusations-over-haqqani

Pakistan's National Security Advisor, Sartaj Aziz, on Tuesday rejected claims by the U.S National Security Advisor Susan Rice that his country had failed to act against Haqqani Network.

Speaking after a meeting with German Foreign Affairs Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Aziz said Pakistan has ousted the insurgent group but added that Haqqani had simply moved across into Afghanistan – where they are now based.

"The infrastructure of the Haqqani Network in north Waziristan, which included IED (improvised explosive device) factories and a number of other facilities including communication [centers] has been destroyed, so what is left here may be very limited compared to the capacity they have in Afghanistan."

This comes after Rice called on Pakistan Monday, during a visit to Islamabad, to stop terrorist networks from carrying out attacks on Afghanistan from within its borders.

Meanwhile, the German Foreign Minister on his visit Tuesday to Islamabad asked Afghanistan and Pakistan to set aside their differences and put an end to past conflicts.

"We stand a chance to leave the strains of the past behind us, and if we can take President (Ashraf) Ghani's word, after talks that I had in the last few days, he too is convinced that only the overcoming of bilateral difficulties can bring success to the struggle against terrorism and the continuation of successful talks with certain groups," said Steinmeier.

It has long been suspected that the main stronghold of the Taliban and the Haqqani Network is in Pakistan but Pakistani politicians continue to deny this.

"Today, the region and the world have realized the truth of Afghanistan and always ask Pakistan to deal with terrorist groups who are active in Pakistan," said Syed Zafar Hashemi, President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman.

However, the Chairman of the Legislative Committee of Parliament, Qazi Nazir Ahmad Hanafi said that in saying Haqqani's infrastructure has been destroyed in Pakistan, the government is now admitting to them having been there.

"From one side the continuation of the daily war against Afghanistan and from the other side the eviction of Haqqani Network from Pakistan, it means they [Haqqani Network] did exist in Pakistan, and we [Pakistan] funded them and equipped them and now we evicted them. This is a confession that Sartaj Aziz admitted," said Chairman of Legislative Committee of Parliament, Qazi Nazir Ahmad Hanafi.

This comes after Washington recently cut its $1 billion USD aid program to Islamabad on the back of their decision that Pakistan was not doing enough towards counter-terrorism operations in north Waziristan in order to squash Haqqani.

The US has been reimbursing Pakistan for operations and maintenance costs incurred in direct support of its operations in Afghanistan since 2001. So far $13 billion USD has been reimbursed to Pakistan under this arrangement.

To watch the whole report, click here:

{youtube}M2xUHbDaX4w{/youtube}

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Tue, 01 Sep 2015 14:46:47 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21194-pakistan-rejects-us-accusations-over-haqqani
Kabul Ready To Host RECCA Summit: MoFA http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21193-kabul-ready-to-host-recca-summit-mofa RECCA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Tuesday said it is ready to host the sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) which is scheduled to start on Thursday.

Ministers from 30 countries and representatives from 40 international organizations will attend the two-day summit.

MoFA officials said the main topics of discussion over the two days will include economic projects, transit and trade cooperation, customs systems, employing of Afghan workers in Gulf countries, connecting Afghanistan with regional countries and an alternate transit route.

Officials said focus will also be given to strengthening ties with regional countries, adding that they will leave no stone unturned in a bid to receive more international assistance and aid in order to implement regional projects.

"Trade and infrastructure issues, tax collection and customs systems, creating facilities in other regional initiatives, overcoming hurdles, and details of implementing big projects like CASA-1000 and TAPI pipeline project will be discussed at the summit," said Wahidullah Waisi, director of the Economic Cooperation Department of MoFA.

MoFA spokesman, Shekib Mustaghni said: "The RECCA summit will reduce reluctance in implementing a number of big projects that will help improve regional cooperation and connecting the regional countries."

According to MoFA, economic analysts will discuss industries, mining sector and cooperation of private sector at sideline meetings at the summit.

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Tue, 01 Sep 2015 14:23:01 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21193-kabul-ready-to-host-recca-summit-mofa
NDS Arrest Taliban's Faryab Leader http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21192-nds-arrest-talibans-faryab-leader

A senior government official on Tuesday confirmed that the Taliban's shadow governor for Faryab province has been detained by the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

The Taliban commander, Qari Sallahuddin Ayoubi, was taken into custody while traveling on the Herat-Shindand road. He was apparently en-route to Quetta in Pakistan.

According to the source, Ayoubi was responsible for insurgent battles in Badghis, Faryab, Sar-e-Pol and Jawzjan province.

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Tue, 01 Sep 2015 13:54:55 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21192-nds-arrest-talibans-faryab-leader
Balkh Rape Victim Seeks Justice http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21191-balkh-rape-victim-seeks-justice

The family of a 14-year-old girl, who was recently raped by two men in northern Balkh province, has come forward and appealed to government to ensure justice is served and that those responsible are sent to prison.

The family of the girl has visited the Court of the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Mazar-e-Sharif city and asked them to address the case.

"We have been oppressed. We have come here to the court to seek justice. We want justice," said the girl's grandmother.

The family lives in the Sholgara district.

The grandmother said her granddaughter is a seventh grade student and was raped by two men about 20 days ago.

The girl's father told TOLOnews that he was not at home when two alleged suspects, Zabih and Basir, kidnapped his daughter at around 10pm at night and then raped her.

He said the act was unforgivable, and that: "We came here to seek justice. They did an un-Islamic act with my daughter."

He added: "The two perpetrators are married. They have families. They have committed such a bad act."

He said the girl was raped 20 days back but officials have not addressed the case because one of the suspects is allegedly the cousin of Sholgara district's criminal manager.

According to him, officials tried to hide the incident.

The victim herself has also called for justice to be served. "They took me to the desert at night. They must be punished."

Meanwhile, the head of the women's court in Mazar-e-Sharif, Fawzia Hamidi told TOLOnews that 16 cases of violence against women have been registered so far this year. She said most of the alleged perpetrators are local powerful figures.

"Most of the cases are committed by local powerful figures or the local commanders. They are still armed. They interfere in such issues as they have power and the people dare not raise their voices against them. They [the locals] accept any kind of pressure from such individuals," Hamidi said.

Balk police meanwhile said they have arrested two suspects in connection with the rape.

"We have arrested two individuals in connection with the case," Balkh police chief Sayed Kamal Sadat told TOLOnews.

There are however concerns that such incidents will be repeated if rapists go unpunished.

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Tue, 01 Sep 2015 12:53:37 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21191-balkh-rape-victim-seeks-justice
Australia Donates $21,000 To The Afghan Cricket Board http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21190-australia-donates-21000-to-the-afghan-cricket-board

The Australian Ambassador in Kabul, Matt Anderson has donated $21,000 USD to Afghanistan's Cricket Board (ACB) and said that cricket in the country has improved significantly in recent times.

Anderson said that cricket has been institutionalized as a national sport in Afghanistan and because of this Australia took the decision to help develop the sport.

The development of cricket has also had a beneficial impact on the people of the country. "It provides your country with role models; it provides your country with the opportunity to put Afghanistan on the world stage in a positive light," Anderson said at an event held at the Australian Embassy.

"And anyone who follows cricket and follows the U-19 Asian Cup at the moment, even the last four games, you beat Kuwait, Nepal, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and we want to give you every opportunity to shine on the world stage. That's why we are supporting it," he said.

Meanwhile, Dost Mohammad Nazari, the acting CEO of the ACB said that the money will be spent in the local cricket section.

Australia has in the past provided assistance for Afghan cricketers. This year they facilitated training camps in Australia and New Zeland for the Afghan team ahead of this year's World Cup.

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Tue, 01 Sep 2015 12:44:11 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21190-australia-donates-21000-to-the-afghan-cricket-board
Military Airfields Being Handed Over To Govt http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21189-military-airfields-being-handed-over-to-govt

Eight airfields dotted around Afghanistan are being handed over to the Afghan government in a civil aviation upgrade that many people hope will not only boost regional trade but even tourism.

The airfields, worth an estimated $2 billion USD, are scattered around the landlocked and mountainous country, whose lack of rail transport or secure roads makes almost every inter-city journey a perilous adventure - even without factoring in attacks from Taliban militants.

As the NATO mission winds down towards the end of next year, U.S Major General Todd Semonite, who oversees $5 billion USD in funding to Afghanistan's security sector, said the decision to transfer rather than close the airfields was made in the belief they could help jump start the economy.

Army Colonel Tom Tickner, the director of the Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan, said that most of the airfields are in operational condition, where some would need a bit of investment from Afghanistan and international investors who are willing to takeover.

Military teams are however, upgrading them ahead of an international road show organized by the Afghan and U.S governments due to be held in Dubai next month.

On offer are modern airports at Kandahar in the south, the biggest with a 20 km perimeter; Shindand and Herat in the western Herat province; Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Balkh province; Jalalabad in eastern Nangarhar province; as well as Bagram, 50 kms northeast of Kabul; and Kabul, adjacent to Kabul International Airport.

The global economic crisis has taken a toll on Afghanistan, which has been compounded by the recent departure of most international combat troops and charities.

Bases that fuelled local economies have closed, and those remaining - including the airfields - have been pared to skeleton staff, no longer employing thousands of locals to do laundry, carpentry, vehicle repair and translation.

Speaking on the handover, Resolute Support Maj. Gen. Semonite said: "Mez (Mazar-e-Sharif), Herat and Kandahar have always been at the intersection of basically the ring road and major avenues coming into the country, so those three nodes are very popular. They have a lot of interest in the private sector already. We think that those would really, really flourish."

Chairperson of the airport development project, Mohammad Daud Sultanzoy said meanwhile that: "These airports will serve as land bridges that will connect both Afghanistan internally and connect Afghanistan to south Asia and central Asia, so the land bridge vision will be fulfilled."

Afghan Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Daoud Ali Najafi said: "If it goes to the private sector, if we can attract investors to invest in these airports, to run these airports, because at first, the government does not have the capacity to keep open these airports. This is one issue, and the second issue; corruption might be, this is my opinion, increased when we keep all these airports with the government."

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Tue, 01 Sep 2015 12:09:26 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21189-military-airfields-being-handed-over-to-govt
Migrant Trains Arrive in Austria As Crisis Deepens http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/21188-migrant-trains-arrive-in-austria-as-crisis-deepens Migrant-trains-child

Trains packed with migrants arrived in Austria's capital where 20,000 people turned out to show their support for the new arrivals, as Europe struggled to cope with the biggest movement of people since World War II.

A total of 3,650 migrants reached Vienna by train, this year's biggest daily number, Austrian police said.

"We are still in the process of verifying how many of them are actually asylum-seekers," Austrian police spokesman Patrick Maierhofer told AFP.

Authorities in Budapest have allowed the migrants, who had been stuck for days in makeshift refugee camps at the city's stations, to board trains for their ultimate destinations in northern Europe.

The trains were stopped at the Austrian border for several hours as part of a security crackdown after the decomposing bodies of 71 migrants, four of them children, were discovered in an abandoned lorry near the Hungarian border last week.

"I'm going to Germany!" cried one grinning migrant from Afghanistan standing by the doors of a packed train at Westbahnhof.

Europe is on the receiving end of the biggest movement of people since World War II, with more than 300,000 arriving this year, many fleeing war, persecution and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

The escalating crisis has divided the 28-member bloc ahead of fresh emergency talks on September 14, with Western European leaders calling for more efforts to help the new arrivals while countries on its eastern borders say they are struggling to cope.

In a show of support for the migrants, 20,000 people took to the streets of Vienna on Monday evening to protest their ill-treatment, while senior government officials attended a church service for the victims of the truck tragedy.

Holding up large banners reading "Refugees welcome" and "I don't want Europe to be a mass grave", demonstrators rallied at the Westbahnhof train station before marching as they sang songs about love and solidarity.

Bystanders erupted into applause as the demonstrators, among them parents carrying children on their shoulders, headed down a major shopping thoroughfare watched by police officers with their helmets under their arms.

Not far away, a service was held at St. Stephen's Cathedral for the scores of migrants found dead in the van.

"We've had enough -- enough of the deaths, the suffering and the persecution," the archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, told the congregation, which included senior government members.

Five suspected people smugglers, four Bulgarians and an Afghan, have been arrested in Hungary over the deaths of the migrants, all thought to be Syrian.

The deaths have also led to a security crackdown in Austria and massive tailbacks formed on the border with Hungary on Monday as officers inspected vehicles in search of people-smugglers and migrants.

More than 200 migrants have been picked up and five suspected people smugglers arrested since the checks started on Sunday.

Much-flouted EU rules stipulate that refugees should be processed in the first country they reach, but Hungary -- like Austria, a country of transit for migrants heading to northern Europe -- says it cannot host record numbers of newcomers.

An AFP correspondent at Budapest's main station described scenes of chaos as throngs of migrants surged forward to catch the last Munich-bound train via Vienna on Monday evening. Many had spent their day queuing for tickets to Austria and Germany.

"I can't believe I'm finally leaving Budapest, it's been very difficult," said Ephran, an 18-year-old Syrian, clutching a rucksack as he waited with his two brothers and mother.

Meanwhile, some 400 travel-weary migrants who had departed Hungary earlier in the day arrived by train in Bavaria, southern Germany, where they were taken to refugee centres in Rosenheim and Munich.

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Tue, 01 Sep 2015 08:09:00 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/21188-migrant-trains-arrive-in-austria-as-crisis-deepens
Ghani Calls For Jihad To Fight Corruption http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21187-ghani-calls-for-jihad-to-fight-corruption Ghani-01-September-2015

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday strongly condemned corruption and called for a national Jihad to fight the scourge that has gripped the country.

Speaking at a press conference at the Amani High School, in Kabul, Ghani spelt out in no uncertain terms that certain sectors are under scrutiny and sweeping changes will be brought in a bid to fight the problem.

Ghani said that if corruption turns into an organized phenomenon it becomes like a "cancerous lesion" that can threaten the essence of the nation. During his speech he urged the Ulema Council to assist and launch Jihad against corruption.

But in rooting out the problem he said efforts have to start in schools and mosques – but he also spelt out a number of sectors of primary concern.

One is that relating to government contracts. He says 350 projects have been reviewed by the National Procurement Authority. However, 28 have been rejected because of non-compliance with procurement law and that 8.5 billion Afs was saved by government through this review process.

Another area of major concern is that of property- and land-grabbing in Afghanistan. He said one of the problems is that owners do not possess title deeds to property they own in accordance with customary law.

Ghani said that for example, 65 percent of industries in Kabul do not have title deeds to their properties. However, government is working on resolving the problem and will issue legal deeds to those who own property.

Ghani said another major problem within the sphere of corruption is that of drugs. He said today there are an estimated 3.5 million drug addicts in Afghanistan.

According to him, the drug problem is also a driving force behind corruption. "Growers, producers and those who process, traffic and consume narcotics are all responsible," he said.

"To fight the criminal economy and mafia-like activities, government has focused efforts on developing agriculture through investment and support," he said adding that he wants Afghanistan to develop into a nation known for its legitimate exports.

In addition, he stated that government wants to restore the trade balance and prevent the importation of unhealthy foodstuffs from some of Afghanistan's neighbors.

Another area of major concern in terms of corruption is that of smuggling, said Ghani.

According to him, political influence and interference is a primary reason for corruption in the customs sector. He says shortcomings in the customs system has contributed to the spread of corruption and smuggling.

Ghani announced that in tackling this, government has decided to bring reforms in the customs sector and create customs police and establish a customs academy.

Another issue was that of mines – and their contracts. He said these contracts are apparently not transparent and that they are currently under review.

Meanwhile, the issue of historical antiques and artifacts of national heritage was also raised and he said that over the years, millions of dollars' worth of such relics has been smuggled out of the country.

Touching on the Kabul Bank issue, he said that all documents relating to the multi-million dollar corruption scandal have been reviewed and currently government is recouping the money.

In line with this, he said all banks in the country have come under scrutiny and that reforms to the sector can be expected.

In conclusion, Ghani emphasized that government was committed to fighting corruption and said that they will take action against those involved in illicit dealings.

He said the country needs a national Jihad to eliminate the scourge and thanked the Ulema Council for "caring about the issue of corruption".

Ghani said it is one of government's main tasks to fight corruption and that they have undertaken fundamental measures to eliminate the problem.

To watch the whole report, click here:

{youtube}L4ETR3uj-tY{/youtube}

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Tue, 01 Sep 2015 07:11:34 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21187-ghani-calls-for-jihad-to-fight-corruption
Gunmen Kill Baghlan's Chief Military Attorney http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21186-gunmen-kill-baghlans-chief-military-attorney afghan military-

Unidentified gunmen shot dead Baghlan's Chief Military Attorney Sayed Munawar Shah early Tuesday morning, local officials said.

The incident happened in Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of the province, when gunmen opened fire on Munawar Shah while he was on his way to his office, the deputy head of the public health department Dr. Abdul Alim Ghafari said.

Baghlan police have not yet commented on the incident.

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

Recently, insurgents increased their activities in the province and frequently target security posts and local government officials.

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Tue, 01 Sep 2015 05:37:14 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21186-gunmen-kill-baghlans-chief-military-attorney
Dostum Returns to Kabul, Calls For Russia's Help http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21185-dostum-returns-to-kabul-calls-for-russias-help Gen-Dostum-31-August-2015

The First Vice President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, who returned to Kabul on Monday after taking part in a month-long military operation in northern Afghanistan, has called on Russia to provide Afghan security forces with military hardware including aircraft.

Speaking at a press conference in Kabul late Monday night, Dostum said that "they [Russia] should not be silent. Our security forces need aircraft, helicopters and equipment. A lot of our equipment is already from Russia. They should help our security forces," he said.

In addition, he raised the issue of Daesh and said the group is not only a threat to Afghanistan but a threat to the entire region.

"Everyone knows that Afghanistan is not the only country on their [Daesh] plan. If their plan was only Afghanistan – what are Uzbek and Chechen [insurgents] doing here," Gen. Dostum asked.

"The [Daesh] plan is the Caucasus Mountains, Russia and central Asia. You are watching Syria and Iraq being destroyed and they want to destabilize the security in central Asia," Dostum said.

Referring to the northern battle, Dostum said troops have now cleared northern Faryab and Sar-e-Pul provinces and "it is now the duty of the security organizations to maintain stability in these provinces."

Dostum joined the security forces on the frontline in northern Faryab province earlier this month and survived at least two assassination plots and ambushes by insurgents groups.

Before his return to Kabul, Dostum said on Monday that plots against Afghanistan in Sar-e-Pul by Pakistan's Inter-Services intelligence (ISI) have been foiled after the Taliban were defeated in Kohistanat district.

This comes after the military operation that Dostum was leading managed to stamp out insurgents in the area and restore law-and-order.

He termed the retaking of Kohistanat as a big victory and congratulated the people for it.

Dostum called on Kohistanat residents to unite, and work hard at maintaining security in the district. He also appealed to the locals to prevent the Taliban from making a comeback in the area.

A number of tribal elders in Sar-e-Pul praised Dostum's efforts to stabilize the province.

Dostum said a few weeks back that he had donned his military uniform and joined troops in the north in a bid to eliminate insurgents, motivate security forces and ensure security.

The mountainous areas in the province can serve as a safe haven for the insurgents therefore the security forces were asked by Dostum to adopt serious measures to prevent the infiltration of the Taliban into these areas; otherwise the locals said they will once again witness insecurity in the district.

Click here to watch his speech:

{youtube}ml6INPq1phI{/youtube}

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Tue, 01 Sep 2015 05:23:15 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21185-dostum-returns-to-kabul-calls-for-russias-help
FaraKhabar: Controversy Over Omar's Successor Fuels Taliban Strife http://www.tolonews.com/en/fara-khabar/21184-farakhabar-controversy-over-omars-successor-fuels-taliban-strife FaraKhabar-31-August-2015

Clashes between feuding Taliban fighters over Mullar Omar's successor, has reportedly escalated into a full scale war among two factions in Zabul province in southern Afghanistan.

To watch the whole program, click here:

{youtube}fNVvJ4Guspk{/youtube}

Reports illustrate that the armed confrontation has left a number of casualties among the two sides.

But the question is does government look to benefit out of this brawl?

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

• Jawed Kohistani, military analyst
• Younus Fakoor, military analyst

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Tue, 01 Sep 2015 03:22:41 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/fara-khabar/21184-farakhabar-controversy-over-omars-successor-fuels-taliban-strife
NDS Arrests 30 Haqqani Militants Over Kabul Attacks http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21183-nds-arrests-30-haqqani-militants-over-kabul-attacks nds 31aug

Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) on Monday announced they had arrested 30 militants associated with the Haqqani terror network who were allegedly involved in the recent airport and Macrorayan suicide attacks in Kabul.

The Afghan spy agency stated that the arrests came after a complicated operation. They said the detained suspects had been planning to attack key government buildings, including the ministries of defense and interior, the Presidential Palace and the US embassy.

Some security sources told TOLOnews on condition of anonymity that high-quality explosives – RDX - were also found during the operation.

RDX is an acronym for Research Department Explosive, which is an explosive nitroamine widely used in military and industrial applications - only international military research institutions are authorized to produce and manufacture such material.

Meanwhile, one suspected Haqqani commander, Israr Ahmad, who was arrested on Monday told TOLOnews: "I was sentenced to six years jail term, but spent two years in Pul-e-Charkhi jail (in Kabul) and was then released. I stayed at home for some time following my release and then opened a shop in Sadr area of Peshawar [capital city of Pakistani province of Khaibar Pakhtoonkhaw] then a guy known as Qari Eshaq asked me to come to Kabul and work with them."

"Before assuming the job, another person known as Maulavi Rohullah was appointed as Deh Sabz [Haqqani] district governor. But later on I was appointed to the post, because I was a native of Deh Sabz district," said the "shadow" governor of Deh Sabz, Hikmatollah, another member who was detained.

The initial investigations reveal the recent attacks on Kabul airport and the 4th Microrayan had been plotted by the same group.

Referring to Monday's successful operation by the NDS, a number of residents in Kabul have called on the relevant Afghan judicial and legal bodies to bring the perperators to justice and execute them.

"Government should mete out severe punishment to these individuals so that it can be a lesson to their counterparts," Saida Jan, a resident of Kabul told TOLOnews on Monday.

This latest Kabul operation is one of the biggest anti-terror assaults by the Afghan spy agency in recent weeks – a move that could help show the NDS is capable of conducting solid surveillance and professional operations in intelligence gathering in their quest to prevent terror plots from happening, said security sources.

In addition, similar explosives seized recently on the Kabul-Paktia highway had also apparently been prepared from the same material, RDX.

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:46:23 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21183-nds-arrests-30-haqqani-militants-over-kabul-attacks
NUG's Turn To Assess, Adopt Election Recommendations http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21182-nugs-turn-to-assess-adopt-election-recommendations

Afghan officials said Monday that the National Unity Government (NUG) will assess and adopt recommendations put forward by the Electoral Reforms Commission (ERC) on Sunday.

The long-awaited recommendations are aimed at bringing reforms in the electoral system in a bid to regain public trust and trust in the democratic process among other key reasons, said officials.

"Now it is the government and the Chief Executive who have to act on the ERC's recommendations about seats to political parties and other subjects," the chief executive's deputy spokesman, Jawed Faisal told TOLOnews.

Afghanistan's Democracy Watch meanwhile says it does not think government will bring about some of the reforms in the electoral system and in electoral bodies.

"We don't have another way, because Afghanistan will step towards a new crisis unless the reforms are brought in the system," said Zekria Barekzai, chairman of Afghanistan's Democracy Watch.

The watchdog says a number of changes proposed, including increasing women's role in provincial councils and others, are a positive step on the part of the ERC. However, it says that implementing the recommendations needs more time and that the package has its shortfalls as well.

"I think practicing the recommendations in the current situation of Afghanistan will be difficult and will need more investment," Barekzai said.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) says the draft proposal is not a new thing, and that they had provided such recommendations to the government on several occasions.

"The draft which has been prepared by the ERC is not a new thing. The IEC has made such recommendations several times but they have not been translated into action," IEC spokesman, Noor Mohammad Noor told TOLOnews.

The Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) – on the other hand – believes that the NUG will not be able to adopt the recommendations.

"Though we are not sure about the implementation of the recommendations by the NUG, our suggestion is that any progress in this regard should be made public by the government," said Naeem Asghari, head of FEFA.

The ERC spent a month preparing the draft document, which included the following recommendations:

1. Electoral system: Consider the fact that the current electoral system in Afghanistan – the Single Non-Transferable Vote (SNTV) – is not addressing all the requirements of the country. This system has to change. Votes are wasted in the current system as MPs receive at least 83 percent of votes. The current electoral system should be changed into a parallel system where one third of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House) seats are allocated to political parties – based on the law. Political parties that gain at least three percent of the vote will be included in the electoral process. In such an electoral system, the Wolesi Jirga's seats – at 250 – would include 10 seats for Kochis, one for minority Sikhs, one third of the seats for political parties and the remaining seats – including 65 for women – would be allocated to independent candidates.

2. Electoral centers: For independent parliamentary candidates, electoral sites should be established within provinces according to the population.

3. Voters and voting lists: The voters list should be prepared according to identity cards. Considering the fact that a large percentage of the population does not have ID cards, the IEC should take special measures to register them on a voters list for the parliamentary elections. The government should launch the national electronic identity card (e-NIC) campaign as soon as possible. The current voter cards should be deemed invalid.

4. Education level for Wolesi Jirga membership: The education level for parliamentary candidates should be decreased to 14th grade graduates.

5. Polling centers: The selection of polling centers and polling sites should be reviewed in a bid to increase ease of access for people.

6. Electoral commission's appointment process: The IEC should appoint seven members – three of them for five years and four of them for three years. The commission members should be at least university graduates, have a minimum of five year's work experience in government offices and they should be under 35 years of age.

7. Mechanism of addressing electoral complaints: The central electoral complaint commission should have five members – two of them for five years and three for three years. They should have a bachelor degree in law, five years of experience in government offices and be younger than 35 years of age. The commission should have provincial centers as well.

8. The electoral commissions should be accountable to the electoral complaint committee.

9. Women's role should be increased in provincial councils: They should have a 25 percent representation role in the councils.

10. A seat for Sikhs should be allocated.

11. Excessive expenditure in the electoral process needs to be curbed.

To watch the whole report, click here:

{youtube}gj3EwFQOjPc{/youtube}

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:22:26 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21182-nugs-turn-to-assess-adopt-election-recommendations
TOLOnews 6pm News31 August 2015 http://www.tolonews.com/en/6pm-news-bulletin/21181-tolonews-6pm-news31-august-2015 Top news in this Bulletin:

Washington once again criticized Islamabad for not taking firm action against the Haqqani Network which is accused of conducted ongoing attacks on Afghanistan.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:

{youtube}6LedwVv_0T8{/youtube}

While pressures mounts on the National Unity Government (NUG) to launch the pilot phase of the much-awaited electronic National Identity Card (e-NIC) rollout campaign, Homayoun Muhtat, head of the e-NIC of department on Monday warned against further delays amid moves by international donors to suspend aid.

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:10:39 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/6pm-news-bulletin/21181-tolonews-6pm-news31-august-2015
U.S Criticizes Pakistan For Not Dealing With Haqqani http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21180-us-criticizes-pakistan-for-not-dealing-with-haqqani

Washington once again criticized Islamabad for not taking firm action against the Haqqani Network which is accused of conducted ongoing attacks on Afghanistan.

Susan Elizabeth Rice, the U.S National Security Advisor, called on Pakistan to stop terrorist networks from carrying out attacks on Afghanistan from within their borders. This came during her visit to Islamabad.

Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman Sayed Zafar Hashemi said that: "Such expressions stamp Afghanistan's legitimacy status - that Afghanistan is a victim of terrorism."

But Pakistani analysts reject such claims and maintain that their country's military policies toward Afghanistan are in support of bringing peace and security.

"Pakistan is ensuring the security in Afghanistan and practically proves that they sincerely try," said Latif Afridi a Pakistani political analyst.

This comes after Washington recently cut its $1 billion USD aid program to Islamabad on the back of their decision that Pakistan was not working at doing enough towards counter-terrorism operation in north Waziristan in a bid to squash Haqqani.

The US has been reimbursing Pakistan for operations and maintenance costs incurred in direct support of its operations in Afghanistan since 2001. So far $13 billion USD has been reimbursed to Pakistan under this arrangement.

To watch the whole report, click here:

{youtube}QlFQ_poLOMY{/youtube}

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 14:48:12 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21180-us-criticizes-pakistan-for-not-dealing-with-haqqani
Economists Call For Broad-Based Economic Strategies Ahead of RECCA Summit http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/21179-economists-call-for-broad-based-economic-strategies-ahead-of-recca-summit

With the ongoing economic and financial recession currently facing the country, some Afghan economic commentators on Monday urged the government to put forward a credible and comprehensive economic plan to seek regional support to implement major regional economic and infrastructural projects.

According to economists, regional summits provide a platform for the government to introduce a solid economic plan to bolster the country's economic development and such summits also enable them to consult with monetary institutions and international partners for more funding and assistance.

The remarks come just days ahead of the sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) which is scheduled to take place on September 3 and 4 in Kabul. The aim is to discuss multilateral trade and commercial opportunities and challenges between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan.

Representatives from at least 70 countries, as well as international institutions, are expected to attend the summit. Analysts say the summit will help Afghanistan to push the international community to fulfill their financial commitments to Afghanistan – commitments made during previous conferences.

In addition to the evaluating of commitments by the international community to Afghanistan, the commitments by government will also come under discussion.

"This meeting is very important to government which will discuss the commitments of the international community to Afghanistan," economic analyst Azarakhsh Hafizi said.

This comes at a time when Afghanistan's economic requirements are yet to be included within the framework of a national economic strategy.

"Government needs to attend these meetings with clear economic plans and recommend its programs to the donors, however focus shouldn't surround general topics," economist Haseebullah Mawhid said.

Rehabilitation of the ancient silk route, the implementation of mega transportation projects, energy production and the establishment of railway links are among the topics which the summit will focus on.

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 13:52:34 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/business/21179-economists-call-for-broad-based-economic-strategies-ahead-of-recca-summit
National Football Team To Play Friendly in Thailand http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/21178-national-football-team-to-play-friendly-in-thailand

The Afghanistan National Football Team left Kabul on Monday for Thailand where they will play in a friendly match against the host country.

The match aims to prepare the football team for the 2018 World Cup qualifying match against Japan.

After the friendly the team will fly to Iran to play Japan in the 2018 World Cup qualifying match on September 8 which will be held in Azadi Stadium in Tehran.

A number of national team players who live in European countries and in the United States have also arrived in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, for the match, scheduled for Thursday.

The National Football Team coach, Slaven Skeledzic said that they don't have much time to prepare for the match against Japan but that they will work hard at getting the players to work as a team ahead of the match in Iran.

"Thailand is a very good team and Thailand plays with the same style as Japan," Skeledzic said adding that he hoped the friendly would help the team in their match against Japan.

On Japan, he said that "I have watched a number of videos of Japan's national football team and I will also watch their next match which is on September 3. I know how the athletes play."

Afghanistan is in group E of the 2018 World Cup qualifying round with Japan, Syria, Singapore and Cambodia.

Afghanistan already lost its first match 0-6 to Syria and in the second match they beat Cambodia 1-0 in the qualifying round.

If they win this next match against Japan, the national squad will play Singapore on October 8 at the National Stadium in Kallang, Singapore. On October 13 they will play against Syria.

On November 12 they have another match in the series of 2108 World Cup qualification round with Cambodia which will be held in Samen Al-Aeme Stadium in Mashhad, Iran.

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 13:25:28 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/sports/21178-national-football-team-to-play-friendly-in-thailand
ISI's Plots Foiled After Taliban Defeat In Kohistanat: Dostum http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21177-isis-plots-foiled-after-taliban-defeat-in-kohistanat-dostum

The First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum - who has spent the past few weeks in Faryab, and more recently in Sar-e-Pul province - said on Monday that plots against Afghanistan in Sar-e-Pul by Pakistan's Inter-Services intelligence (ISI) have been foiled after the Taliban were defeated in Kohistanat district.

This comes after the military operation that Dostum was leading managed to stamp out insurgents in the area and restore law-and-order.

He termed the retaking of Kohistanat as a big victory and congratulated the people for it.

Dostum called on Kohistanat residents to unite, and work hard at maintaining security in the district. He also appealed to the locals to prevent the Taliban from making a comeback in the area.

"All nefarious ends of ISI will be foiled slowly. The people of Afghanistan will not let the Taliban adopt their plans here," Dostum said. "I congratulate this victory on all Sar-e-Pul residents including the youth, elders, religious scholars, women and those who go to school."

A number of tribal elders in Sar-e-Pul praised Dostum's efforts to stabilize the province.

"Your move and your victory in Faryab and as well as in Kohistanat district of Sar-e-Pul is worth appreciation. People were encouraged and their morale was uplifted after you [Dostum] entered the province," a tribal elder Sayed Ahmad told TOLOnews.

Dostum said a few weeks back that he had donned his military uniform and joined troops in the north in a bid to eliminate insurgents, motivate security forces and ensure security.

Meanwhile, the locals said they want more security bases in the district in order to prevent insurgents from returning.

"Vulnerable areas should be supported. The areas lack security forces. The local forces are not enough; other troops should be added in the area besides the local forces," head of Sar-e-Pul provincial council Noor Mohamamd Rahmani told TOLOnews.

The mountainous areas in the province can serve as a safe haven for the insurgents therefore the security forces were asked by Dostum to adopt serious measures to prevent the infiltration of the Taliban into these areas; otherwise the locals said they will once again witness insecurity in the district.

To watch the whole report, click here:

{youtube}4jH7Mc2Tg4w{/youtube}

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 12:38:58 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21177-isis-plots-foiled-after-taliban-defeat-in-kohistanat-dostum
Concerns On The Rise Over Stalled e-NIC Roll Out http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21176-concerns-on-the-rise-over-stalled-e-nic-roll-out

While pressures mounts on the National Unity Government (NUG) to launch the pilot phase of the much-awaited electronic National Identity Card (e-NIC) rollout campaign, Homayoun Muhtat, head of the e-NIC of department on Monday warned against further delays amid moves by international donors to suspend aid.

"Funding was suspended for the project on August 15 but [donors] will lift the suspension once the project is launched," he said.

"The ministry of interior has sent an official letter to the presidential palace to include e-NIC on the agenda of the next cabinet meeting in order to discuss the political and financial aspects of the project, as further delay will endanger the recuperation of the aid," he said.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Chief Executive (CEO) has also said that further delays in the project are not in the best interests of the country nor the people.

"Rollout would start soon, there is no way to delay the project as it does not support the people's interests. The political issues that caused delays were resolved and there is no more reason to delay the process. The issue is related to the future of every Afghan citizen and the rollout must be launched," said Jawed Faisal, a deputy spokesperson to the CEO on Monday.

In addition, Muhtat revealed that warranties for the equipment purchased for the e-NIC system are due to expire within a few months and it could create a new financial setback for the project.

"Dragging out the project will have major political and financial implications ahead and in that case it would be quite difficult to recover the loss," Muhtat said.

"Contracts for printing machines procured for the project will expire within one or two months. If the process is launched and a technical issue arises, then the company which has produced the machines will not take responsibility for them if they break down," he said.

The Afghan Census law, which ratifies the ID project and calls for its implementation, was approved over a month ago.

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 12:26:51 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21176-concerns-on-the-rise-over-stalled-e-nic-roll-out
150 Insurgents Killed in Nangarhar Military Operation http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21175-150-insurgents-killed-in-nangarhar-military-operation

At least 150 Taliban insurgents were killed in a large-scale military operation in eastern Nangarhar province in the past month, local officials said on Monday.

In addition, more than 100 other insurgents were injured.

The operation was launched in Hesarak, Sherzad and Khoghyani districts of the province which borders Pakistan. The operation was launched to clear insurgents a month ago and ended on Monday, Mohammad Zaman Waziri, the commander of Selab 201 Military Corps in eastern Afghanistan said.

The operation was named "Musalas-e-Ahaneen" in which 13 security soldiers were also killed and three others injured, Mohammad Zaman Waziri said.

The military officials said that the insurgents gathered across the border and come into Afghanistan with the intention of destabilizing the country.

"We have destroyed all Taliban bases in Hesarak and Sherzad districts of the province and the Taliban insurgents had massive casualties in the month's operation," said Waziri.

The military soldiers, who have since returned to their bases, said the "Taliban insurgents created problems for residents in these areas. We were sent from different provinces to rescue our people."

"I have fought the Taliban insurgents face-to-face and the people," a soldier Ahmadullah said.

Another soldier, and resident of eastern Kunar province, Mustafa said that "the Taliban created problems for the people. I have killed a number of Talibs and as long as I am alive I will rescue my peoples from them."

Meanwhile, the Provincial Police Chief, Fazal Ahmad Sherzad, said that a number of police posts have been established along the Nangarhar highways.

"Sherzad borders with Pakistan so because of this the Taliban activities are more frequent and we have created a number of police posts to prevent insurgent attacks," Serzad said.

The operation was a joint campaign with police, military and the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and conducted in three districts of the province.

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 11:44:53 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21175-150-insurgents-killed-in-nangarhar-military-operation
TOLOnews 10pm News 30 August 2015 http://www.tolonews.com/en/10pm-news-bulletin/21174-tolonews-10pm-news-30-august-2015 10pm-news-30-August-2015Top news in this Bulletin:

A senior negotiator and member of the Afghan High Council Peace (HPC), Azizullah Din Mohammad, said Sunday that the Taliban is probably willing, although hesitant, to come to the peace talks tables but urged the U.S and China to put pressure on Islamabad to make this happen. The remarks come only weeks after the Taliban's new leader Mullah Akhter Mansour declared all-out war against the Afghan government forces and foreign troops - until a complete withdrawal of 'invader forces' from Afghanistan has taken place.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:

{youtube}DXEqvOQ9Q5Y{/youtube}

Ministry of Defense officials on Sunday said that following mounting criticism Afghanistan would soon make public its definition of who its friends are and who its foes are. Speaking at a graduation ceremony of 500 military officers in Kabul, the MoD's deputy chief of policy and strategy Lt. Gen. Mohammad Humayun Fawzi said: "We will declare the friends and enemies of Afghanistan soon."

 

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:08:13 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/10pm-news-bulletin/21174-tolonews-10pm-news-30-august-2015
Chinese Envoy Visits Kandahar http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21173-chinese-envoy-visits-kandahar Chinese-Envoy-Visits-Kandahar

The Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan Deng Xijun paid a visit to southern Kandahar province on Sunday where he met with local officials and businessmen and called for stronger Sino-Afghan relations.

At a meeting with local officials, businessmen and tribal elders, Deng described Kandahar as a historic province, saying his two-day visit is aimed at assessing problems there and finding ways to help, China's Xinhua reported.

The ambassador said China, besides providing scholarships to 500 Afghan students, would also help train 3,000 Afghan government employees till 2020 so as to enhance government efficiency.

Local officials including provincial governor Hamayun Azizi, in meeting with the ambassador, called for further Chinese contributions to the rebuilding and economic development of the country.

Kandahar businessmen also appealed for help to develop bilateral trade and economic relations.

This comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping announced in July that he intends to provide Afghanistan with more security equipment and training.

China, one of the major economic powers in the world, has expressed interest in helping Afghanistan achieve peace and stability as the country is worried about separatist groups in its far western region of Xinjiang, which borders Afghanistan.

"Increasing security cooperation suits both countries' interests. China will continue to supply Afghanistan with security supplies, technology, equipment and training assistance," Xi told President Ashraf Ghani during a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Ufa city of Russia last month.

China has also long pledged to play a "huge" commercial role in helping rebuild Afghanistan as the U.S pulls out troops from the country.

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 09:02:05 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21173-chinese-envoy-visits-kandahar
MEWAR: Ahmad Wali Massoud Gives an Independent Opinion On Recommendations http://www.tolonews.com/en/mehwar/21172-mewar-ahmad-wali-massoud-gives-an-independent-opinion-on-recommendations Mehwar-Masoud-30-August-2015

In this episode of Mehwar, Ahmad Wali Massoud, head of the Massoud Foundation in Afghanistan, discusses the recommendations of the Election Reforms Commission's recommendations.

Click here to watch the full discussion:

{youtube}m8FiMnpj1zs{/youtube}

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 07:58:28 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/mehwar/21172-mewar-ahmad-wali-massoud-gives-an-independent-opinion-on-recommendations
MEWAR: IEC Spokesman Talks On the ERC Recommendations http://www.tolonews.com/en/mehwar/21171-mewar-iec-spokesman-talks-on-the-erc-recommendations Mehwar-Noor-30-August-2015

In this episode of Mehwar, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor discusses the recommendations.

Click here to watch the program:

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 07:50:54 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/mehwar/21171-mewar-iec-spokesman-talks-on-the-erc-recommendations
MEWAR: ERC Head Discusses Election Recommendations http://www.tolonews.com/en/mehwar/21170-mewar-erc-head-discusses-election-recommendations Mehwar-Akifi-30-August-2015

In this episode of Mehwar, the head of the Election Reformation Commission (ERC) Shah Sultan Akifi discusses the recommendations submitted by the commission on Sunday.

Click here to watch the interview:

{youtube}H0YbTdLNgbw{/youtube}

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 07:42:05 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/mehwar/21170-mewar-erc-head-discusses-election-recommendations
More Than 100 School Girls Poisoned in Herat: Officials http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21169-more-than100-school-girls-poisoned-in-herat-officials GIRLS-SCHOOL

Local officials said more than 100 school girls were poisoned in western Herat province early Monday.

The incident took place in Herat city when the girls were at school, said officials.

The girls have been taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, officials said.

"So far it's not clear how the incident happened but we have started investigations," officials said.

Officials did not provided further details about the incident.

Poisoning of school pupils, especially at girls schools, has increased in recent months – sparked concern among many families in Afghanistan.

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

 

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 07:24:41 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21169-more-than100-school-girls-poisoned-in-herat-officials
Delayed Egypt Elections to Start on October 17 http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/21168-delayed-egypt-elec-tions-to-start-on-october-17 President-Abdel-Fattah-al-Sisi

Egypt's much delayed legislative elections, the first since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted his Islamist predecessor and cracked down on the opposition, will be contested between October and December.

Electoral commission chief Ayman Abbas said on Sunday that voting will be in phases from October 17 to December 2, with a new 568-seat parliament in place by the end of the year.

The polls come more than two years after Sisi, then army chief, toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi whose now-banned Muslim Brotherhood swept the last general election in 2011.

Analysts say Sisi loyalists are expected to emerge the big winners from the polls, which serve to appease Cairo's Western backers who see the president as a rampart against jihadist violence despite concerns over repression that has eliminated any meaningful opposition.

"It will not be a parliament that represents the people but one that represents the president," said Cairo University professor of political sciences Hazem Hosni.

The elections had initially been scheduled for early 2014 but were then delayed on legal grounds amid charges from rights groups of repressive measures during a crackdown on the Islamist opposition.

Polls were then set to begin in March this year, but a court delayed them citing legal obstacles and lawyers said the electoral law did not divide up districts in a way that would adequately represent voters.

The same court had dissolved the previous Islamist-dominated parliament, which was elected after the 2011 uprising that forced longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak from power.

It ruled that parts of the law under which parliament was elected were unconstitutional. That decision granted broad legislative powers to the presidency in the absence of an assembly.

After Morsi's ouster in July 2013, Sisi announced plans for a new constitution, to be followed by presidential and parliamentary elections.

The new charter was adopted in January 2014 and Sisi was elected president in May last year.

- Complex voting system -

Critics say that with the Brotherhood having been crushed and banned, the elections are bound to be dominated by Sisi loyalists.

Among those standing in the election is a pro-Sisi coalition calling itself "For the Love of Egypt" that includes Mubarak-era politicians.

The elections are important to Sisi as he seeks to shore up his standing in the eyes of Western governments that condemned his overthrow of Morsi, the country's first freely elected leader.

"This election aims to calm local and international public opinion which backs Sisi's battle against terrorism but does not accept authoritarian abuse," said Mathieu Guidere, a professor of Arab geopolitics at the University of Toulouse in France.

Even secular and liberal activists, including several who played a prominent role in the 2011 revolt, have been jailed for holding unauthorised protests.

Guidere said he expected the new parliament would help establish a "facade of democracy" but it would not have "real powers" because of the security challenges facing Egypt.

Karim Bitar, head of research at the Paris-based Institute of International and Strategic Relations, agreed, saying the new parliament would "only give the illusion of a transition to democracy".

In a complex electoral system, Egyptians living abroad will vote on October 17. Voters in 14 of the country's 27 provinces will cast their ballots on the following two days.

Remaining voters abroad and inside the Arab world's most populous country will take part in a first round on November 21, 22 and 23.

Runoffs after the first phase will be held on October 26, 27 and 28 and on November 30, December 1 and 2 for the second phase.

Twenty-seven seats in parliament will be appointed directly by Sisi, with the rest contested through party lists or on an individual basis.

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 06:59:34 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/world/21168-delayed-egypt-elec-tions-to-start-on-october-17
Two Children Die in Taliban Missile Attack in Maidan Wardak http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21167-two-children-die-in-taliban-missile-attack-in-maidan-wardak taliban-peace

At least two children were killed in a Taliban missile attack in central Maidan Wardak province on Sunday, local officials said.

In addition, 12 other civilians were injured.

The incident took place in Sayed Abad district of the province after two missiles were fired into the district in which one of the missiles hit a residential house, Provincial Governor Hayatullah Hayat said.

"Two children have been killed in the attack and 12 others [civilians] were injured." He Hayatullah Hayat said.

Hayat strongly condemned the attack.

The Taliban have not yet commented on the incident.

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Mon, 31 Aug 2015 05:19:48 GMT http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/21167-two-children-die-in-taliban-missile-attack-in-maidan-wardak