Rampant allegations of fraud and foul play during Afghanistan’s run-off election have led to the resignation of another prominent figure, top election official Ziaulhaq Amarkhil. Amarkhil, who has been the target of accusations of biased vote counting and the fraudulent placing of over one million additional votes. The resignation of Amarkhil is described as the first major victory for Afghan presidential hopeful Abdullah Abdullah, who was the source of the allegations and the most vocal advocate of Amarkhil’s resignation.
Verbal accusations made by Abdullah had been recently bolstered by audio recordings released by Abdullah in which he is alleged to be heard championing illegal ballot-box stuffing efforts. Amarkhil has been adamant in denying the claims brought forward by Abdullah and labeling them as false, but has thus far been unable to provide proof that the tapes had been doctored. Unsurprisingly, Abdullah has voiced his approval of the resignation, going as far as to declare that “the door is now open to talk to the [electoral] commission.” Perhaps not so surprisingly, incumbent President Hamid Karzai, support of Abdullah’s chief opponent, Ashraf Ghani, also voiced his approval of the resignation, stating that elections “should be in accordance with electoral laws.” Although Amarkhil’s resignation appears to grant credibility to allegations of voter fraud, the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission of Afghanistan (IECC) dismissed all charges against Amarkhil and asserting that all complaints made were unfounded.
- Eurasia Net has published a story highlighting the seeming lack of effort put forward by the US Embassy in Tajikistan to publicize the case of Alexander Sodiqov, a University of Toronto researcher who disappeared on June 16, and now faces treason charges. Though both the OSCE and Freedom House have released statements condemning the disappearance and charges brought against Sodiqov, noticeably absent has been a similar statement issued by US representatives in Dushanbe. Those close to Sodiqov had suspected foul play on behalf of Tajik authorities seeking to “make an example” of anyone looking to research tensions between the Tajik government and groups in Tajikistan’s turbulent region of Badakhshan. Sodiqov is Tajik though he had been working for the University of Exeter in England, and conducting research in Toronto.
- The grandson of Uzbek’s only post-Soviet President Islam Karimov’s recently stated in an interview that the daughter of the current Uzbek leader, Gulnara Karimova, has been under house arrest ever since charges of corruption and money laundering were brought against the famous first daughter several months ago. An article published by The Times of Central Asia insinuates, however, that the charges brought against Gulnara, as well as the interview and the hype surrounding the interview are being used merely as a propaganda campaign launched by Gulnara herself in an effort to re-cast herself as an opponent to the oppressive Uzbek regime.
- Pakistani energy officials have come to terms with their Tajik counterparts on a deal that outlines the terms surrounding the importation of energy from Tajikistan to Pakistan. Both countries are energy-starved, though for different reason. Tajikistan, which boasts of a large hydroelectric source of energy, is known for using its energy, most egregiously on its antiquated TALCO aluminum plant which it seems to keep open only due to the amount of jobs it creates. Pakistan, which is resource poor, is looking to ends it ongoing energy crisis, which is currently costing the Pakistani economy almost 3% if GDP per annum.
- HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, has blocked a series of “humanitarian trade transactions” destined for Iran, and has since been lobbied heavily by Tehran as it seeks to pour fresh cash into its ailing economy. Despite light sanctions relief in light of the temporary nuclear deal brokered by Tehran with the West, multinational banks face up to $9b in fines if they are proven to be doing business with Tehran.