The United Nations has decided to cut off a previously announced aid to Honduras for its upcoming elections, as a new action against the putschists who took over the country in June.
The contribution, which was expected to be channelled through the UN Development Programme (UNDP), was now cancelled and it will be announced Monday, Honduran envoy to the UN Jorge Arturo Reina told Prensa Latina Saturday.
The United States has already taken steps cutting aid to Honduras’ coup-backed government.
Juan Cole has a bead on it:
There are two electoral commissions operating in Afghanistan, a wholly local and a partially international one. The local one, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan, announced Tuesday that with 90% of ballots counted, incumbent President Hamid Karzai now has 54% of the votes, enough to allow him to avoid a second-round run-off against his chief rival, Abdullah Abdullah. But the other body, the United Nations-supported Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) (which has Afghan members but the head of which is a Canadian), clearly was disturbed at the IEC announcement and it ordered the IEC to conduct a recount and to throw out clearly fraudulent ballots.
In essence, the two electoral commissions have locked horns, and if the local body gets its way, Karzai may well be declared the winner hands-down. The UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission has the authority to order recounts, but it is probably too under-staffed and under-funded to make its objections stick. If the IEC declares for Karzai, he may well keep his job because of inertia (see: next-door Iran). On the other hand, the EEC’s objections really could lead to a massive recount of over 5 million ballots, which might delay a firm result for several months.
I doubt the analysis that the EEC is “probably too under-staffed and under-funded to make its objections stick.” It is very likely under-staffed and under-funded, a weight too many UN offices are forced to suffer under, but people seem to be listening to what they have to say, and I very much doubt that the Karzai government could just sweep those objections under the rug.
What does “UN-supported” mean? According to the EEC website, it was formed under Article 52 of Afghanistan’s Electoral Law and three of the five EEC commissioners are chosen by the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative. Those three commissioners –Maarten Halff, Scott Worden, and the chairman Grant Kippen — look pretty impressive, at least on paper, having served in election monitoring capacities in Algeria, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Iraq (where Halff “advised on the development of election laws, electoral systems and complaint mechanisms”), Liberia, Nepal, Moldova, Pakistan, Timor Leste and Ukraine.
From Al Jazeera:
Also, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan posts a helpful memo from the Independent Election Commission that spells out the procedures for counting the vote and deciding if there is a run-off. Meanwhile, Kai Eide, the head of UNAMA, is appealing for calm. The situation, it seems, remains quite tense.
And the early word is that they have gone off without serious violence. UN Envoy Kai Eide is optimistic:
During the visit, Mr Eide said: “I am pleased to see that so far the elections have been going quite well. I see it and hear it from the across the country that there is a good turnout.”
The UN’s Special Representative for Afghanistan added: “This democracy has to grow up from inside. That’s why I think these elections are very important that these elections are organized by the Afghans. And we in the international community have been completely impartial with regard to who we would like to win these elections. It is so important to demonstrate that, if not, we will not have Afghan institutions that can stand up on their own feet. That is a long way to go.”
Of course this makes sense, but it’s also worth remembering how hard it actually is to know how much or how little violence is occurring. Afghan officials don’t want to publish or publicize incidents of Taliban violence, and international observers don’t want to get so close to the process that they are seen as interfering. For now, scanning Twitter (#Afghanelections and #Afghan09) might give one a sense of what’s going on on the ground, but I can’t help but be skeptical of the incomplete picture this gives; how many Afghans are Twitterers anyway?
At any rate, conducting these elections is an impressive step. There are sure to be improprieties, and, unfortunately, insurgent attacks, but millions of Afghans are voting, and the world is paying attention.
(image from UNAMA)
Following Ban Ki-moon’s “congratulating” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election, 200-plus “intellectuals, activists and defenders of rights,” including a number of Nobel Prize winners, have signed an open letter to the Secretary-General contesting the Iranian elections and urging him to take a number to steps to withhold support for the Iranian regime and protect the rights of Iranian protestors. Another Nobel laureate, Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, has also stressed that Ban should send a truth-finding commission to Iran and push for a re-election.
There’s nothing wrong with — and in fact much reason to support — sending a truth-finding commission to Iran (though try telling that to Ahmadinejad), and even more reason to speak out against the human rights abuses of Iranian protestors. In fact, Ban has spoken out against the violence curtailing of press and assembly rights that followed the election, and a UN report on the country is due at the end of the year. But what’s harder to responsibly call for is the group letter’s final recommendation — essentially, that the UN Secretary-General denounce Iran’s government.
Refuse to recognise Ahmadinejad’s illegitimate government that has staged an electoral coup, and curtailing any and all forms of co-operation with it from all nations and international organisations
This is similar to the implicit position in the negative reactions — fewer, I admit, than I’d expected — to Ban’ perfunctory “congratulation” of Ahmadinejad, and to critics of President Obama’s unwillingness to denounce the Iranian regime outright. This sort of criticism is entirely myopic, though, even for skeptics of strategies of engagement and cooperation. No matter how farcical Iran’s election was, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is currently the leader of Iran, and no support that the international community bestows or withholds will change that — in fact, the latter would likely only exacerbate tensions.
Ban Ki-moon is the Secretary-General of 192 United Nations, and Barack Obama the president of the most powerful country in the world. They both have to deal with Iran. Cooperation is much easier than confrontation, and the goals — ensuring that Iran does not build a nuclear weapon, for instance — are far more important than the unproductive act of denouncing Iran’s leaders.
Neocon and former occupation mouthpiece Coalition Provisional Authority spokesperson Dan Senor on the upcoming Kurdish elections:
On Saturday, the Kurds vote on a new parliament and president. While polls show that President Massoud Barzani and the two largest Kurdish parliamentary parties will be re-elected, the dynamic of this election is making Kurdish leaders nervous. Historically, Kurdish elections turned on the KRG’s power struggle with the national government. But in this election, the Iraqi Kurds seem to be more preoccupied with local governance issues such as KRG corruption. This may be prompting KRG officials to foment tension with Baghdad in the hope that the perception of external threats will strengthen their position at the polls. [emphasis mine]
He uses this analysis to argue for increasing not decreasing U.S. troop presence in Kurdistan. I don’t buy that, but I also don’t buy the logic underlying it. If Kurdish voters are mostly concerned about corruption in their own government, then their votes are most likely going to be in response to corruption in their own government. Kurdish politicians can try to foment all the tension they’d like (over the next three days), but that’s not likely to assuage their constituencies’ concerns about corruption.
Senor seems to be doing a little fomenting himself here. If there’s tension between Kurdistan and Baghdad, then he can argue for a greater U.S. military troop presence (and conveniently oppose the president’s agenda). And there’s nothing to reduce tension like an enduring occupation force.
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.