[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
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Referendum on Scottish independence is the first major election in the UK where 16 and 17-year olds get a vote.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Farmers worry about their future as buyers shun local produce and rivers show an elevated presence of heavy metals.
War-torn neighbour is an uncertain haven for refugees fleeing Pakistan's Balochistan, where locals seek independence.
NSA whistleblower Snowden and journalist Greenwald accuse Wellington of mass spying on New Zealanders.
join our mailing list