The year started with another transition for Afghanistan – the Presidential Palace hosted a ceremony to mark the move of security responsibility from ISAF to the Afghan National Security Forces on the 1st.
by Abdullah Ahmadi - Programmes Director of Cooperation Center for Afghanistan (CCA)
Abdullah shares his thoughts regarding his recent week at the London Conference on Afghanistan
1.You have been involved in human rights for many years. What types of human rights violations have you dealt with, and what do you think of the current human rights situation in Afghanistan?
BAAG organised and hosted the half-day Ayenda Conference on 3rd December 2015. This was the offical civil society associate event of the London Conference on Afghanistan. This report provides a brief summary of the event - its structure, attendees, content and feedback. A full report is being drafted, which is expected to be published in February 2015.
October was the first month of the country’s new National Unity Government. President Ghani kick-started his reform agenda by making some early appointments and decisions. Qamaruddin Shinwari was appointed as the new Attorney General and the resignation of Abdul Salam Azimi was accepted. He had been the country’s Chief of Supreme Court since 2006. President Ghani also announced that he would appoint Afghanistan’s first female member of the Supreme Court. Also, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive Officer, chaired the new cabinet’s first meeting.
Women’s rights and gender inequity was a key justification for the international intervention in Afghanistan in 2001. In November 2001, Prime Minister Blair’s wife Cherie held a press conference with female Afghan refugees in Downing Street: extolling the fighting spirit of these Afghan women she stated “In my experience as a professional woman and a mother and somebody who has been on the margins of the political world, I have seen how all communities work more smoothly and productively when women are involved and have a voice.”
Elections and politics
September was a month of electoral anxieties and agreements. For the first half of the month, tensions mounted as the bitter, drawn-out investigation into election fraud remained unresolved. The demonstrators even accused the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) of aiding vote rigging.
Elections and politics
The full audit of Presidential run-off votes continued in August, albeit with numerous delays and disruptions. On the 1st, the UN announced that the audit would resume after 3 weeks of intermittent delays and disputes. But the following day Abdullah’s team refused to attend, claiming the suggested processes agreed were not robust enough to reveal the alleged large-scale fraud. It took a second visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to resume the process and for both candidates to agree on the development of a unity government.
by Muhammed Hussain Raufi
On World Humanitarian Day, Muhammed Hussain Raufi, Humanitarian Coordinator at Islamic Relief Afghanistan, discusses ongoing humanitarian needs following flash floods and landslides in Afghanistan
On the 7th, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced the preliminary results of the runoff. It showed that 8.1 million ballots were cast, 56% of which had gone to Ashraf Ghani. This was a pleasant reversal of fortunes for him as he only got 32% of votes in the first round. Abdullah cried foul and alleged that the one million additional voters were the result of industrial-level fraud orchestrated by the IEC.
On the 14th, the Presidential Elections run-off was held between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani. Election authorities put the turnout at 7 million - higher than the first round. A heavy price was paid. Election-related violence claimed around 60 lives, while dozens more were injured including 11 elderly men whose index fingers were cut off by the Taliban because they voted.
BAAGs latest report reveals imbalanced media coverage of Afghanistan – could this threaten development efforts?
BAAG's monthly report on the key developments and news from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan in May 2014
Catastrophic landslides engulfed the 3 villages of Abb Bareek in Badakhshan on 2nd May 2014, burying what is feared to be hundreds of people and destroying homes and livelihoods. On the day of the disaster a wedding party was in full swing – but as the first smaller landslide struck at 10.30am, celebrations turned to grief and desperation, with villagers flocking to pull family and friends from the deadly mud flow.
Elections – vote of confidence
Despite the life threats, sporadic attacks by the Taliban, rainy weather and high fraud concerns, Afghan men and women flocked to the polls in high numbers on the April 5th Presidential and Provincial Council Elections. The estimated 60% turnout, 36% of whom were women, is a clear improvement from the estimated 40% in the 2009 Presidential Elections. National and international observers reported that the levels of fraud were considerably lower than the previous elections as well.
BAAG's briefing paper was drafted ahead of our Getting it Right Gender Conference, held in London on March 26th & 27th.
Our monthly 2-page summary of the main developments and news from Afghanistan. March saw the Afghan journalist community boycotting Taliban news following the murder of 2 of their own, drop-outs from the Presidential candidates race and funding pledges from Sweden, Japan, the UN and a footballer.
Elections – let the preliminaries begin
The two months of campaigning for the Presidential and Provincial Council elections started on the 2nd. Electoral rallies, TV debates between the lead contestants and social media campaigns have stimulated the political activism.
For the last 2 weeks, women’s rights in Afghanistan have featured heavily in the international media. Primarily this focused on the Afghan parliament’s passing of a controversial article in the Criminal Procedure Code. Women’s rights activists argued this would limit access to justice for victims of domestic violence. Even though President Karzai agreed on Monday that the legislation must be changed, this specific issue has raised a number of wider concerns about the state of women’s rights 12 years on from the removal of the Taliban regime.
Elections – A promising development
Author: Steph Cousins, Humanitarian Advocacy Lead, Oxfam Australia, and co-Chair of the ACFID Afghanistan Working Group
As Afghanistan prepares for presidential elections and the withdrawal of international forces, insecurity continues to spread across the country, with a devastating impact on civilians.