Though the results are far from finalized, already tallied votes indicate that Abdullah Abduallah could prevail in the preliminary round of Afghan elections. More than half of all the votes cast have yet to be counted, and a run-off is still likely, but Abdullah has widened his lead over his closest rival, Ashraf Ghani by almost 12%, taking 44% of the vote. Unsurprisingly, allegations of voter fraud and meddling have increased as the percentage of votes tallied grows greater, as rival candidates have accused both Abdullah and Ghani of using unfair voting practices to promote their respective candidacies.
Despite the fact that many traditional media sources have reacted quickly to praise the fact that nearly sixty percent of the Afghan populace turned up to vote in the elections, others have been reluctant to praise the process, even going as far as to decry it for resembling past voting periods too closely. Votes tallied thus far have, according to a report in al-Jazeera, replicated past voting cycles, and have favored the candidate that the current president, Hamid Karzai, has publicly advocated. The report stated that those quick to praise the process should instead look at it as merely a false positive — a continuation of the past that will do little to change or alter the future Afghan political landscape.
- Ukraine and Russia have traded accusations in light of a recent shootout in eastern Ukraine that left one dead. The shootout comes shortly after a supposed truce was brokered between the two nations, though tensions haven’t lessened and violence doesn’t appear to be abating. The Ukrainian government has accused Russia of sending in provocateurs to incite separatist violence, whilst the Russians have presented evidence that allegedly shows Ukrainian responsibility for the exchange of fire.
- Mongolian government officials are preparing proposals that, if passed by the Mongolian parliament, would loosen mining restrictions throughout the country. The intended purpose of the bill is to raise investment and create greater economic growth by annulling laws that had suspended the “issue of new exploration license” and provide greater opportunities for foreign mining companies.
- A spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran stated that the Islamic Republic has finished diluting half of its supply of 20-percent enriched uranium to five-percent in purity. The actions fulfill half of the conditions stipulated in the Geneva agreement, which indicated that Iran would dilute half of its uranium, oxidize the other. The International Atomic Energy Agency has verified that Iran is complying with the terms of the agreement.
- The Tajik-Turkmen intergovernmental commission met in Ashgabat in order to reaffirm their commitments to joint infrastructure development. Transportation and communications figured heavily during discussions, particularly the TAT railway, which would connect Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The 400km railway is expected to become operational in 2015.