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Afghanistan - elections run-off

Foreign staff, candidates lie low ahead of Afghan ballot

Article published on the 2009-10-30 Latest update 2009-10-30 17:18 TU

Afghan street vendors stand in front of electoral posters in Kabul(Photo: Reuters)

Afghan street vendors stand in front of electoral posters in Kabul
(Photo: Reuters)

Foreign officials in Afghanistan are hunkering down in the build-up to next week's election, after the Taliban killed five UN staff in Kabul. The absence of President Hamid Karzai and rival Abdullah Abdullah on the campaign trail is also fuelling fears the ballot may be shelved.

United Nations officials reviewed security measures Friday, and charities staff were under orders to limit their movements until the country holds its run-off presidential ballot on 7 November.

After the first round elections lost credibility amid low turnout and charges of fraud by incumbent president Hamid Karzai, round two will again pit Karzai against his minister Abdullah Abdullah.

Malalai Joya - an Afghan MP thrown out of the assembly two years ago by a majority she claims represent warlords and drug-lords - says both Karzai and Abdullah are unfit to steer the country out of crisis.

Interview: Malalai Joya, Afghan MP

30/10/2009 by Salil Sarkar

“This election under the shade of Afghan war-lordism, drug-lordism, corruption and occupation forces has no legitimacy at all. The result will be like the same donkey but with new saddles,” Joya said.

“The situation for women in most provinces is hell. Today rape cases, domestic violence, kidnapping and the killing of women is increasing rapidly. These fundamentalists during the so-called free elections made a misogynist law against shia women in Afghanistan. This law has even been signed by Hamid Karzai.”

Joya drew similarities between Karzai and Abdullah, arguing both are corrupt, have betrayed women’s rights and have permitted the country to remain a safe haven for terrorism. Both support the presence of US troops, which Joya said was damaging to both countries.

“The US wastes taxpayers money and the blood of their soldiers by supporting such a mafia corrupt system of Hamid Karzai,” she said. “Eight years is long enough to learn about Karzai and Abdullah – and about their own policy, that they chained my country to the centre of drugs.”