A peaceful outcome to Afghanistan’s presidential elections has grown increasingly unlikely. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, one of two principal presidential candidates, has issued a series of demands that, should they not be met, will lead to Abdullah’s Reform and Unanimity party abandoning the audit of the vote. The main complaints seem to stem from the manner in which votes are invalidated, as clear invalidation benchmarks don’t seem to have been agreed upon by both sides. Moreover, Abdullah has lodged complaints stating that votes from 190 polling stations which had been closed due to security concerns have been entered into the system as legal votes, though their quality has been described as questionable.
Fazal Ahmad Manawi, one of Abdullah’s spokesmen, has laid out the demands, and subsequently issued an ultimatum by threatening to withdraw if the demands are not fulfilled. Supporters of Ashraf Ghani have yet to report on the statements, though accusations of extortion are likely to be levied against Abdullah. With nearly 75% of total votes already audited, a setback at this stage would almost certainly be the final nail in the coffin of an election process that has been plagued by accusations of fraud and foul since a vote run-off took place months ago.
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- Violence broke out along the Kyrgyz-Tajik border yesterday, in a renewal of the ongoing spat that saw two Tajiks killed. The clash marks the bloodiest of such confrontations, and was allegedly provoked when Tajik servicemen attempted to erect a border post and destroy a bridge situated in undefined parts of the border. The confrontation marks the 31st such spat along the Fergana Valley border area, and so far appears to be one-sided, with no Kyrgyz reportedly being killed.
- American Ambassador to Uzbekistan George Krol issued a statement declaring relations between the US and Uzbekistan to be “mutually beneficial.” The proclamation comes on the heels of a recent meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Uzbek leader Islam Karimov, and describes relations between the two countries as economically and politically sound. Uzbekistan and the US have forged closer ties since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, though many in the United States decry Uzbekistan’s horrendous human rights record and repeated accusations of torture and denial of freedom of speech.
- China has announced the creation of a cartoon series that will feature a Uyghur princess named “Princess Fragrant.” Controversy has already started to emerge surrounding the new show, as the Uyghur princess is reportedly based on the tale of a girl from the Western Chinese city of Kashgar that enchanted China’s Qianlong Emperor, and went on to become his concubine. The tale has traditionally been one of unity, though modern interpretations of the story label the princess as an imperial sex slave who was ultimately murdered by her captors.
- Russian and Kazakh central banks have increasingly bolstered their gold holdings. The move suggests that economically prosperous emerging markets will continue to look at gold as a valuable commodity despite the drop in global gold prices. Russia is one of the world’s largest holders of gold, while Kazakhstan has moved aggressively to increase its own supply.
- The Iranian ambassador to Azerbaijan, Mohsun Pakayin, has hailed relations between the two countries as fruitful and of increasing importance to both sides. Though sparse in detail, the two sides appear poised to increase trade and joint investment, likely in the two sides’ respective energy sectors. Minor feuds between the two countries regarding pop culture seem to have subsided, despite the fact that Iran at one point recalled its ambassador from Baku.