Daily brief: Afghans protest election problems

Taking to the streets More than 300 Afghans — disgruntled candidates, lawmakers, and supporters — protested in the streets of Kabul today against problems with September’s parliamentary elections, the final results of which have not been announced (AP, Reuters). Nearly a quarter of ballots cast have been tossed because of concerns about fraud. The Post ...

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images
MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images
MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images

Taking to the streets

More than 300 Afghans -- disgruntled candidates, lawmakers, and supporters -- protested in the streets of Kabul today against problems with September's parliamentary elections, the final results of which have not been announced (AP, Reuters). Nearly a quarter of ballots cast have been tossed because of concerns about fraud.

The Post reports that U.S. Marines are beginning to transition control of Nawa, a farming district of around 80,000 in Helmand, to Afghan security forces, the first among those that received additional forces "because they were assessed by commanders to be too critical to fail" to start the handover (Post). In the coming months, Marines reportedly say they will begin transitioning three other districts in Helmand that saw "comprehensive" operations last year, and Afghan, U.S., and NATO officials are working to put together a list of provinces, mostly in the north, that can begin transitioning in the spring to present at a NATO conference in Portugal next month.

Taking to the streets

More than 300 Afghans — disgruntled candidates, lawmakers, and supporters — protested in the streets of Kabul today against problems with September’s parliamentary elections, the final results of which have not been announced (AP, Reuters). Nearly a quarter of ballots cast have been tossed because of concerns about fraud.

The Post reports that U.S. Marines are beginning to transition control of Nawa, a farming district of around 80,000 in Helmand, to Afghan security forces, the first among those that received additional forces "because they were assessed by commanders to be too critical to fail" to start the handover (Post). In the coming months, Marines reportedly say they will begin transitioning three other districts in Helmand that saw "comprehensive" operations last year, and Afghan, U.S., and NATO officials are working to put together a list of provinces, mostly in the north, that can begin transitioning in the spring to present at a NATO conference in Portugal next month.

Sweden will begin withdrawing its some 600 troops from the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif in 2012, and plan to complete the transition to Afghan control by 2014 (CP, Reuters). Five Swedes have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

The LA Times reports on U.S. military statistics showing that Afghan civilian deaths caused by allied forces have risen to 160 so far this year, up from 144 this time last year, coinciding with an increase in incidents in which coalition helicopters fired on Afghans who turned out to be civilians (LAT). Near Jalalabad, a NATO drone crashed due to a technical problem earlier today, and local children have reportedly carried off parts of the wreckage (Pajhwok). And yesterday’s brief takeover of the Khogyani area, in Ghazni, appears to have been facilitated by a group of Afghan police officers who defected to the Taliban (NYT).

The fight goes on

Yesterday, militants attacked a Pakistani security convoy in the tribal agency of Mohmand, and managed to escape (ET). No casualties were reported. A dozen militants were killed yesterday in ongoing clashes with security forces in Orakzai, which the Pakistani government has declared cleared (ET).

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the Pakistani parliament earlier today that there is no chance of a military coup and rejected opposition calls for the dissolution of parliament (Geo, AP). Agriculture officials in Punjab, the "food basket" of Pakistan, are reportedly seeking to export excess stocks of wheat from the province, causing concern among aid groups that worry about the effects of the summer’s flooding (WSJ). The Pakistani government has not made a decision about the possible exports. 

Vocational skills

Up to a thousand Afghan women in the province of Ghor are learning carpet-weaving and thread-making skills as part of a $278,000 course funded by the UNDP (Pajhwok). At the end of the class, the women will receive sewing machines.

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