Taliban and warlords scare of candidates, disenfranchise 1.5m in Afghan elections; Zardari: Pakistan will take three years to recover from floods as epidemics threaten; Six Somali MPs killed in terror attack; Philippine government criticised over kidnappings; and more

Top of the Agenda: Anti-Government Attacks Threaten Afghan Election

Attacks by anti-government groups (WashPost) in the south and east of Afghanistan have scared away many candidates and voters for the upcoming parliamentary election, which was postponed last spring until September 18. The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan said it found a large increase in Taliban intimidation of voters and candidates, especially women, as well as threats from warlords who have propped up candidates. Afghan election officials announced last week that 938 of the country's 6,835 polling centers would be closed on election day due to security concerns, disenfranchising 1.5 million of Afghan's thirteen million registered voters. Officials say they want to limit the fraud that tainted last year's presidential election, when Afghan President Hamid Karzai returned to office amid allegations of widespread ballot-stuffing and bribery.

A spokesman for the Afghan president told reporters at a press conference that corruption in the country is mainly the fault of foreign contractors (ToloNews).

There are signs that Karzai, who is looking for ways to bring the Taliban into the system, may be retracting his support for women (Reuters), despite a quota that requires 25 percent of seats in lower parliament to be filled by women in next month's election.

Analysis:

In the Japan Times, Jaswant Singh says it is vital for Western powers "to accept that Afghanistan cannot be governed centrally, only guided."
President Obama's political objectives for Afghanistan are limited and feasible, says military historian Gian Gentile, but the military's counterinsurgency strategy and "maximalist approach of nation-building" could take a generation to achieve.

Background:

This Reuters Q&A outlines how Afghanistan's parliamentary election works.

Read US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's July 21 speech on tackling the challenges in Afghanistan.

 

PACIFIC RIM: Pressure Mounts on Philippine Hostage Crisis

Criticism of the Philippine government's handling of Monday's hostage crisis (WSJ) grew after eight Hong Kong tourists and the gunman died following a twelve-hour standoff. China sent foreign ministry officials to the Philippines to deal with the aftermath.

Japan: The yen rose to a fifteen-year high against the dollar and a nine-year high against the euro, heightening concerns about Japan's struggling (FT) export industry and paltry growth.

 

ELSEWHERE:

- Gilani: Pakistan Threatened by Epidemics
- Somali Gunmen Kill Six MPs in Mogadishu
- US Court Counters Obama on Stem Cells

 

This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org

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