Monday, March 10, 2014

Taliban threaten to attack Afghan presidential elections

The Taliban have threatened to attack Afghanistan's crucial presidential election next month, warning that anyone who goes near "electoral offices, voting booths, rallies and campaigns" is putting their life in danger.
Afghanistan is preparing for a poll that if successful will prepare the way for the country's first ever peaceful, democratic transfer of power. Security and fraud are seen as the two largest, and interconnected threats.
Some of the worst vote-rigging in the 2009 poll occurred in "ghost" polling stations, vote centres that were opened in violent areas where few or no locals were willing to risk defying the Taliban to cast a genuine vote but hundreds of ballots were registered.
The Taliban had earlier called the election a waste of time, but the English-language statement posted on Monday was more explicit in threatening violence against anyone associated with it.
"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan encourages all its countrymen to avoid becoming victims of the enemy conspiracies in the upcoming elections process; reject it wholly and do not put yourselves in danger," the statement said. "If anyone still persists on participating then they are solely responsible of any loss in the future."
There have already been several attacks against election workers. Last year, insurgent gunmen in northern Kunduz province assassinated the provincial head of the Independent Election Commission, the government body organising the logistics of the vote.
More recently, in western Herat province two men from the team of the leading candidate Abdullah Abdullah were gunned down the day before campaigning officially began, although that attack was not claimed by insurgents.
Repeating earlier allegations that the election is a rigged sham, the Taliban said the vote would continue US dominance of the country, even after foreign troops left, by selecting a head of state who was in effect a puppet.
"It [the US] will install a head of state who appears to be an Afghan but will have American mentality, vision, deeds, creed and ideals while openly being in conflict with the clear teachings of the sacred religion of Islam," the statement said.
The US has strenuously denied any meddling in this election, although the former defence secretary Robert Gates in his memoirs described efforts in 2009 to ensure Karzai was defeated, manoeuvring he described as a "clumsy and failed putsch".
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