[QODLink]
Archive
Rights group raps Afghan commanders
Regional and factional leaders pose as much of a threat to Afghanistan's elections as the Taliban, Human Rights Watch has said.
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2004 20:11 GMT
Karzai has been urged to avoid deals with abusive local leaders
Regional and factional leaders pose as much of a threat to Afghanistan's elections as the Taliban, Human Rights Watch has said.

While international attention focuses on the disruption caused by violence blamed on the Taliban and allies including al-Qaida, other local commanders are resorting to threats and harassment to sway votes in their favour, the private, New York-based lobby group said in a report on Tuesday.

   

"The warlords are still calling the shots," the group's Afghan researcher John Sifton said, referring to regional commanders who have resisted efforts by interim President Hamid Karzai to disarm them.

   

"It's been almost three years since the fall of the Taliban, and there was supposed to be progress towards democratisation, disarmament and elections. But the reality today is the democratic process has only entrenched the warlords," he added. 

   

With no guarantee security will improve between the presidential election on 9 October and parliamentary elections in April, the latter could be marred by "widespread political repression and violence", the group said in its report.

 

Clashes

   

Karzai has had only partial success in reining in commanders who have clashed with rival factions and have turned down offers to leave their strongholds to join the central government.

   

"The refrain of this election not being perfect is being used as a shield for significant failures in election preparations"

John Sifton,
Human Rights Watch

Karzai, who enjoys international support, is widely expected to win the presidential vote, but there is concern among Western diplomats that the more complex parliamentary elections could be manipulated by commanders and their political parties.

   

"Human Rights Watch urges President Karzai and the Afghan government to continue to step up efforts to sideline abusive commanders and refrain from deal-making that would further entrench warlord rule," the report said.

   

Regional commanders were instrumental in helping the US military defeat the Taliban in late 2001. Some have seen their powers reduced. Others continue to operate alongside US-led forces in Afghanistan, hunting fighters.

   

Human Rights Watch also highlighted the absence of formal international observer missions for the presidential poll due to concerns for observers' safety: "The refrain of this election not being perfect is being used as a shield for significant failures in election preparations," Sifton said.

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Absenteeism among doctors at government hospitals is rife, prompting innovative efforts to ensure they turn up for work.
Marginalised and jobless, desperate young men in Nairobi slums provide fertile ground for al-Shabab.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to hear genocide charges for targeting ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims.
'I'm dying anyway, one piece at a time' said Steve Fobister, who suffers from disabilities caused by mercury poisoning.
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
join our mailing list