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The Afghan Election Complaints Commission (ECC), with Canadian UN appointee Grant Kippen at it's helm, has published the first results of it's investigation into fraud in the presidential election, held on August 20th. On Thursday the commission announced it would throw out the ballots from 83 Afghan polling stations, where there is definite evidence of fraud. 51 of the problem stations were in Kandahar, 27 in Ghazni, and five in Paktika, according to ECC press releases. Of the 2300 complaints the ECC has received, the largest group concern irregularities at the polls, including ballot box stuffing. Other common complaints include allegations of intimidation, and lack of access to the polls, particularly for women. The ECC investigation is ongoing and could result in a fresh election.
Currently, as vote tallying continues, the three front runners in the presidential election are the incumbent Hamed Karzai with 54.1%, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah with 28 %, and Ramazan Bashardost with 9.2 %. 91.6% of polling stations have been tallied, so the counting is almost done, but further investigations into fraud could change things significantly. According to electoral law, if Karzai doesn't receive at least 50% of the valid votes, there will have to be a run-off election this fall. If enough ballots are invalidated as a result of the ECC investigation, Karzai could lose his current winning position, and fall below the necessary 50%.
The ongoing outsourcing in Afghanistan
Canada’s Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Kandahar, Afghanistan will not be put in harms way, despite the oft-repeated political promise that all of Canada’s ground troops will be withdrawn by 2011. The responsibility of the security of these specialists-contractors themselves- will instead be provided by private companies, who will need to go through a selection process, according to Canada’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Ron Hoffmann who spoke to journalists via video-conference, earlier this week.
This is not the first time that the Canadian government has decided to hire private security companies in Afghanistan. The British based firm, Saladin Security , has been protecting the Canadian Embassy in Kabul for many years, while many Afghan contractors including warlords, have been hired to protects convoys of Canadian personnel or provide a "security cordon" for high risk situations, such as roadside bombs going off.
Fredericton rallies together for women of Afghanistan
March 24, 2009
By Jessi MacEachern
This past Saturday, people of the Fredericton community gathered together for a cause that hits hard locally, but is in fact dedicated to communities nearly 10,000 kilometres away.
The Fredericton Peace Coalition, the UNB/STU University Women’s Centre, NB RebELLEs-Fredericton, and CUSO-VSO joined together to host Fredericton’s third Annual Benefit for the Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan (RAWA).
RAWA began in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1977 under the leadership of Meena, an activist who was eventually assassinated for her advocacy against Afghanistan’s fundamentalist forces.
Today, RAWA continues to thrive as a political and social organization of Afghan women struggling for peace, freedom, democracy, and women’s rights. Knowing freedom and democracy can never be donated, what is needed from members of a community like Fredericton is solidarity and support.
Saturday’s lineup brought local talent to the auditorium stage of the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. The evening started off with a reception of free beverages and finger foods, accompanied by the soothing musical notes of Mark Currie, Tom Whidden, Brian Calder, and Matt Leger.
As these first musicians played, guests were encouraged to bid on the silent auction items displayed along one side of the room—a collection of art supplies, reading materials, tea sets, jewelry, kids’ items, gift certificates and more, entirely donated by the greater Fredericton community.
This morning on Democracy Now! Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez did an excellent interview with Jeremy Hinzman, the first US war resister to seek asylum in Canada. Last Wednesday, Canadian border services ordered Jeremy and his family to leave Canada by September 23rd.
From the interview: "...on June 3rd, the Canadian parliament passed a non-binding motion by a vote of 137-to-110 saying that US war resisters should be able to remain in Canada. However, the conservative government is refusing to enact the legislation."
"Right now, there’s a conservative minority government. Canada has a parliamentary system, and they hold the balance of power. And I wouldn’t say they’re lapdogs to the US, but they share many of the same values of the Bush administration and aren’t really sympathetic to what we’re doing."
Photo by R. Whitlock.
Rabble.ca's Derrick O'Keefe recently gathered a significant statement by Malalai Joya, one of the more courageous and heroic political figures in Afghanistan today. She makes the memorable statement below about the billions of dollars in military spending and aid money which has effectively been squandered in Afghanistan by the run-away corruption of the Karzai government.
The Congressional Budget Office says that the U.S. will spend $2.4 trillion over the next ten years on the "war on terror." If they instead spent this money properly and honestly, not only would Iraq and Afghanistan be made into heaven but, also, world poverty would be eliminated.
Download / Podcast the program HERE.
In Canada, a state commission on “Reasonable Accommodation” regarding the rights of minorities and new immigrants in Quebec has created a storm of controversy. This edition of Radio Tadamon! features Indu Vashist, a community organizer in Montreal and May Hayder of Al-Hidaya Association presenting alternative perspectives on ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ to the government sponsored commission...
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.