Sunday, March 29, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Afghans brave Taliban threats to choose new leader

By
From page A11 | June 15, 2014 |

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghans braved threats of violence and searing heat Saturday to vote in a presidential runoff that likely will mark the country’s first peaceful transfer of authority, an important step toward democracy as foreign combat troops leave. The new leader will be challenged with trying to improve ties with the West and combatting corruption while facing a powerful Taliban insurgency and declining international aid.

Abdullah Abdullah, who emerged as the front-runner with 45 percent of the vote in the first round, faced Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, an ex-World Bank official and finance minister. Neither garnered the majority needed to win outright, but previous candidates and their supporters have since offered endorsements to each, making the final outcome unpredictable.

The two men differ more in personality than policy. Both promise to sign a long-delayed security pact with the United States, which President Hamid Karzai has rebuffed. That would allow nearly 10,000 American troops to remain in the country for two more years to conduct counterterrorism operations and continue training and advising the ill-prepared Afghan army and police. And both pledge to fight for peace and against corruption.

But their different ethnic backgrounds have highlighted the tribal fault lines in this country of 30 million ravaged by decades of war.

“I voted today for my future, because it is still not clear — the country is at war and corruption is everywhere and security is terrible. I want the next president to bring security above all and jobs,” said Marya Nazami, who voted for Ahmadzai.

The White House praised Afghan voters for their “courage and resolve” in the second round.

“These elections are a significant step forward on Afghanistan’s democratic path,” it said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the next government chosen by the Afghan people.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised Afghans for “laying the groundwork for the first democratic transition” in their country’s history.

“These brave Afghans from all walks of life again defied the threat of violence and went to the ballot box and voted because they want to set the course for a more inclusive, prosperous, and stable future,” Kerry said in a statement. He said it is essential that the process of tallying the votes, adjudicating completes and finalizing the results “be transparent and accountable.”

Observer groups said the balloting was relatively smooth, although both candidates and observers said they had evidence of fraud ranging from ballot box stuffing to proxy voting. Several polling stations also opened late or failed to open at all because of security concerns, and many voters complained of ballot shortages.

The Taliban intensified attacks ahead of voting and warned people to stay away from the polls, but the Islamic militants failed to disrupt the first round. They stepped up attacks again ahead of this round, including an assassination attempt that narrowly missed Abdullah just over a week ago.

Despite a series of rocket barrages and other scattered attacks that Interior Minister Mohammad Umar Daudzai said killed 47 people, including 20 civilians and an election commission worker, the voting was largely peaceful. Daudzai also said 60 militants were killed.

Independent Election Commission Chairman Ahmad Yousuf Nouristani, speaking at a joint press conference after polls closed, said initial estimates show that more than 7 million Afghans voted, which would be equivalent to the first round on April 5. That would be a turnout of about 60 percent of Afghanistan’s 12 million eligible voters.

Official preliminary results were to be announced on July 2, with final results released on July 22. Nouristani said his commission would release partial results in the coming weeks.

Many voters said they were eager to get the bilateral security agreement with the United States signed after seeing Islamic extremists seize large sections of Iraq in recent days, nearly three years after U.S. troops withdrew from that country. Iraq’s Shiite-led government had discussed the possibility of a residual U.S. force but the two sides were unable to reach an agreement.

“Iraq is burning,” said shopkeeper Abbas Razaye after voting in a mosque in western Kabul. “We need the foreign troops for the time being. Otherwise our history of civil war will repeat itself and Afghanistan will deteriorate even more than Iraq.”

Abdullah, 53, whose mother was a Tajik, draws his support mainly from that ethnic group although his father was Pashtun. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, he served as adviser to and spokesman for Tajik warlord Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was assassinated by al-Qaida two days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Later that year, Abdullah became the face of Afghanistan’s anti-Taliban movement after the U.S. toppled the Taliban government, giving frequent news conferences to international journalists. He served as foreign minister and then was the runner-up in Karzai’s disputed re-election in 2009.

His supporters praise him for staying in the country during the civil war and fighting the Taliban, as opposed to Ahmadzai who lived in exile and at one point even had U.S. citizenship, which he gave up for his own failed bid against Karzai five years ago.

“Abdullah was always among the Afghans inside Afghanistan,” said restaurant owner Mohammad Nahim, who cast his ballot in western Kabul. “Abdullah can bring peace and improve the economy.”

Ahmadzai, a 64-year-old, U.S.-educated Pashtun, has gained the support of the country’s largest ethnic group, particularly in the Taliban heartland in southern Afghanistan.

“According to our will, Ashraf Ghani is the best candidate and the rightful leader of our country,” said Abdul Saboor Zamaria, who works for a non-governmental organization in the southern city of Kandahar. “If Abdullah Abdullah is made our leader, more mistrust and rage will spread in our country and violence will keep increasing day by day.”

Ahmadzai called on electoral officials to take the complaints seriously and investigate them.

“We will patiently wait for the final results of the election. Figures are on the way,” he said at a news conference. “But the nation has proved that it wants a change, and we are the team for change.”

Abdullah expressed concern about the independence of the electoral commissions, which were appointed by Karzai, and called on them to act fairly, saying the legitimacy of the future government depends on it.

“We are in a good position. I can say we are in a very good position, and it’s up to the two commissions to make the announcement.”

Karzai, who has led the country since the U.S. invasion and was constitutionally barred from seeking a third term, cast his ballot at a high school near the presidential palace. Many analysts say his decision to step down peacefully will be one of the major successes of his otherwise troubled legacy.

“Today your vote will lead Afghanistan toward a better future, better government and a better life,” he said to his countrymen. “Afghanistan is taking another step forward in a transition toward security, progress and stability.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Vanden High library project nears completion

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Vanden girls end stellar season

By Brian Arnold | From Page: C1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Cheers for Jupiter – and roller derby

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2, 2 Comments

 
Red Cross volunteers help assemble first aid kits

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

PG&E helps replace stolen equipment

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

 
Justin-Siena names new principal

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

 
Vacaville police make arrest after pursuit

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3, 3 Comments | Gallery

Vacaville bridal, quinceanera show a hit

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

 
Event benefits child who attends Cambridge School

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Free paper shredding option returns to Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Best barometer of investment success: Wealth

By Mark Sievers | From Page: B8

 
Tips on hydrozoning your garden

By Tina Saravia | From Page: B8, 2 Comments

 
Fairfield police log: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 2 Comments

 
Suisun City police log: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Crash victim’s father calls for more focus on pilot welfare

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Experts: Sex bias case will embolden women despite verdict

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Popular Yosemite National Park lookout opens early in season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Some British Airways frequent flier accounts miles breached

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

7 shot and injured at Florida spring break house party

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Boko Haram kills 39, legislator, disrupting Nigeria election

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Official: Al-Shabab siege at Somali hotel ends, 24 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
 
Bird flu found in a top Minnesota turkey producing county

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Islamic fighters led by al-Qaida in Syria seize major city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 29, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Pope finds popularity and dissent at 2-year mark

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Truth does not change

By The Rev. Art Zacher | From Page: C3, 9 Comments

Horoscopes: March 29, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B8

 
Daughter choses stepdad over father to walk her down the aisle

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B8

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Second Julie Andrews memoir expected in 2017

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Chrissie Hynde memoir coming in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

.

Sports

 
Warriors beat Bucks 108-95, clinch top seed in West

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Wisconsin heads to Final Four after 85-78 win over Arizona

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Burns scores winner in SO to lift Sharks past Flyers, 3-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Jenest pitches SCC baseball team to shutout of Contra Costa

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

AP sources: Texas fires coach Barnes after 17 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kazmir, Quintana both strong; A’s beat White Sox 10-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Zunino homers twice, but Giants rally to edge Mariners 9-8

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Gordon, Earnhardt among the winners and fans of Martinsville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Prince Bishop wins Dubai World Cup, California Chrome 2nd

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Serena Williams easily wins opening match at Miami Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Power leads Penske sweep in qualifying for IndyCar opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Revolution win first of season, beating Earthquakes 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jimmy Walker leads hometown Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

A glance at women in leadership roles in business worldwide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
For business, more women in charge means bigger profits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

US drillers scrambling to thwart OPEC threat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Test trial to use computer servers to heat homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

.

Obituaries

Betty Mason

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Tiffany Lyn (Helzer) Kemp

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Richard F. Coleman

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
James Lee Lewis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Helen Kalis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carol A. Vose

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics