Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday reported 125 new positive cases of coronavirus out of 2,385 samples tested in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported nine deaths and 205 recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 54,403, as the number of total reported deaths is 2,363 and the total number of recoveries is 46,759.
The new cases were reported in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Paktia, Parwan, Nimroz, Bamiyan, Maidan Wardak, Badakhshan, Laghman, Zabul, Uruzgan, Faryab and Sar-e Pul provinces.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) during a national summit on Wednesday shared the amended Election Law with relevant stakeholders and asked them to share their inputs.
Zohreh Bayan Shinwari, IECC chief said that the current election law is not responsive for the current situation when presenting the draft amending election law to the institutions involved in the process.
Ms. Shinwari added that this is a preliminary plan and has been prepared by the election commissions based on the experiences learned from the previous elections.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Qasem Eliassy, secretary and spokesman for IECC, explained that the plan included adjustments to issues such as the definition of electoral terminology, a defined executive mechanism for voter registration, and the electronic nature of elections.
He stated that adjustments have also been made to issues such as how to define Afghanistan’s electoral system, reducing the number of candidates, crimes and fines for electoral fraud and irregularities.
In the meantime, Maulana Abdullah, a member of IEC, said the plan to amend the election law has not been finalized and efforts are being made to take into account the views and suggestions of all parties involved in the election.
IECC officials said that the representatives of political parties, civil society organizations and stakeholders in the elections have been given the opportunity to share their views on the plan with the election commissions in the next four days.
The commission added that by incorporating these proposals, the election commissions will finalize the draft amendment election law to the Ministry of Justice for further implementation.
The recent findings of the Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) indicate that the draft budget for the next fiscal year of 1,400 is unbalanced and unreliable.
IWA on Wednesday shared the results of its reviews on the next year’s draft budget and expressed concern about its unbalanced allocations and precautionary codes.
“While the Coronavirus poses a serious threat to the economic situation, the development budget has not been provided based on the principles of balanced development,
but the development projects have been prepared based on the interests of politicians,” said Seyed Ekram Afzali, the Chief Executive of IWA.
According to Afzali, the review on the education budget shows that the allocation for education sector is not coherent and the principle of balanced development enshrined with the constitution has been ignored.
“The education budget is an example of the imbalancment between provinces,” Afzali said. “This imbalancement is noticeable in other sectors as well.”
“We expect the dialogue between parliament and the government to lead to a long-term reform framework for the national budget, not a political deal once again,” he added.
In the meantime, Mohammad Nasser Teymouri, the communication director of IWA said, “Since a decade ago, the precautionary codes have been more than 3 percent.
“The validity of the national budget has been questionable for many years due to unjustified budget allocations to these codes,” he said.
He stressed that the Parliament must ensure that the precautionary codes do not exceed 3 percent in the fiscal year of 1400.
A trailer packed with Iranian-made explosives that has just entered Afghanistan’s soil from Iran was discovered by Afghan border forces in Farah province.
Local media quoting credible sources reported on Wednesday that the explosives were skillfully placed under the flour bags in the trailer.
Reports suggest that one person has been arrested in connection with the case.
The arrested individual said the explosives were supposed to be used for making roadside bombs, as well as to blow up bridges and trenches.
According to the reports, the explosives were scheduled to be transported to other provinces through Farah province.
This comes as Iran has been accused of supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan, particularly in the western provinces, but the Iranian embassy in Kabul had previously denied the allegations.
Afghan local officials said at least six Policemen were wounded in an explosion near a security checkpoint in Herat province on Tuesday night.
The spokesman of Herat Police, Abdul Ahad Walizada said the blast took place in the Inijil district of the province.
According to Walizada, four more Police personnel were wounded in the blast who were transferred to the provincial hospital.
However, the conditions of wounded Police personnel are not clear.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident so far.
Afghan local officials say the Taliban militants attacked the security outposts in Dahan Dara village of Pashtun Kot district of Faryab province on Tuesday night.
The spokesman of Faryab Police, Abdul Karim Yourish said that at least four security forces were killed and three more were wounded during the clashes with Taliban.
Yourish noted that the Taliban’s attacks pushed back after resistance forces arrived at the area and backed up the security forces.
He added that at least seven Taliban insurgents were also killed and five more including a foreign national were wounded in the clashes.
Afghan National Security Adviser (NSA) Hamdullah Mohib leading a high government delegation arrived in Paktia province on Wednesday to assess the security situation of the province.
The National Security Council (NSC) in a statement said that NSA Mohib is scheduled to meet with the governors of Paktia, Paktika, Logar, Maidan Wardak, Bamiyan, Ghazni provinces, security commanders, and the 203 Thunder Corps officials.
According to the statement, NSA Mohib in addition to assessing the general security situation of the southern zone of the country, he will monitor the implementation of the security forces’ deployment program also appreciate the achievements of the country’s security and defense forces.
Mohib previously visited the Balkh and Helmand provinces this week.
Waheed Omar, President Ghani’s senior adviser for public and strategic affairs, on Wednesday said that the Afghan government is not in favor of releasing more Taliban prisoners.
“The release of over 5,000 Taliban prisoners before was intended to reduce violence as the part of the peace process, but violence has increased because of it,” Wahid Omar said during a press conference in Kabul.
Omar noted that the Taliban’s demand for the group’s release of 7,000 prisoners is baseless.
According to Mr. Omar, peace talks are currently slow and there is no change in the Taliban attributes.
“The republic side is ready to discuss and has taken many steps to bring the peace process to fruition, but the Taliban do not have a clear vision in any area,” he said.
“We hope the Taliban finally understand the reality of Afghanistan today,” he added.
Recently, the Taliban in a meeting with US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation demanded the release of 7,000 Taliban prisoners.
Afghan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh has warned the Taliban that if they continue to kill people, members of civil society and carry out bombings, the release of prisoners will not be on the agenda of peace talks.
“In order to execute the terrorists, the Taliban must be informed that the negotiation process needs to build trust,” Amrullah Saleh wrote in a report at his 6.5am morning meeting on Wednesday. “Trust building is not created by killing civilians and kidnapping people on highways.”
Saleh has emphasized that he will not remain indifferent to the killing of people.
He stressed that the release of “terrorists” from government prisons may now be on the agenda of the Taliban. If they continue to kill innocent people, members of civil society and bombings, then not the release of prisoners but their lives will be on the agenda,” he warned.
The first VP pointed out that the government represents the feelings of the people and the people want more determination and clarity from the government at every moment.
Release of Taliban prisoners
The first Vice President made the remarks after Mullah Baradar recently met with Zalmai Khalilzad, the US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, to demand the release of the remaining prisoners from the government prison.
The Afghan government has already released 5,500 Taliban prisoners under intra-Afghan talks based on the group’s agreement with the United States in Qatar.
As part of the project “Stabilization of Tajikistan’s Southern Border Region with Afghanistan,” the first stage of construction of the National Training Center for rescuers from Tajikistan, Central Asia’s nations and Afghanistan began on January, says a press release issued by the Emergencies Committee under the Government of Tajikistan.
An official ceremony was attended by Rustam Nazarzoda, Head of the Emergencies Committee, ambassadors of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and France as well as heads of a number of international organizations active in Tajikistan.
Opening the ceremony, Emergencies Committee head noted that implementation of the project would allow improving skills of rescuers and consolidating regional rescue forces to respond natural disasters and other crises.
The center is reportedly located in Qaratogh Gorge in an area of 28 hectares and it will consist of training, administrative and residential blocks, canteen, gym, stadium as well as training-simulation and modular complexes.
Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan have signed a roadmap for expanding and intensifying cooperation in such spheres as trade and investments, energy, transport and logistics, telecommunications and information technologies, customs and border issues, the Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers told Trend.
The document was signed during a videoconference meeting of the working group, consisting of authorized representatives of the relevant state structures, Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Shahin Mustafayev, acting Chairman of the Central Bank of Afghanistan Ajmal Ahmadi and Deputy Prime Minister of Turkmenistan Bayramgeldi Ovezov.
Azerbaijan has prepared a roadmap to expand and intensify cooperation among three countries in different directions.
The appropriate working groups and subgroups were created in each sphere, intensive and productive discussions were held and several measures were taken to coordinate the draft map.
During the meeting, the parties exchanged the views on the current state and prospects for the development of cooperation among Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan in the field of transport, logistics and other spheres.