ISAF have been on red alert this week. In one morning in Jalalabad Road they were tipped off and found one motorbike bomb, one car bomb, a man with 18 kg of explosives and an apple cart with rockets hidden in it. Also a few rockets have been fired into the centre of Kabul. Prior to the elections this is predictable. See the security reports attached. It may not be as straight forward as it seems. In some cases local security forces may have planted explosives and then take credit for finding them and justify their positions. If rewards are offered there is even more incentive to do this. The international community is getting a bit nervous and travel restrictions have become very strict.
The deteriating security has made it difficult for UNAMA to prepare for the elections. Even more areas are off limits including the main UNAMA compounds for a few days. It has been trumpeted that over three quarters of the eligible voters have registered. However, the last census was about 30 years ago. When I worked in Mazar with UNAMA elections they estimated a voting population for the city of 97,000. When I left three months ago we had registered twice this number. We were also working on an estimated 10.5 million eligible voters in the country. Now this seems to have decreased to an estimated 9 million voters. In addition a great number of people have registered more than one and even a few times. Some believe this will mean they will be able to vote more than once. Indelible ink will be put on people’s hands when they vote so it will be difficult to vote more than once. Others are just taking the opportunity of getting a few free photos of themselves. To nominate oneself for president one needs 10,000 supporters or 1,000 with 10 registration cards each. People can not vote if they do not have a registration card. Some people are already offering cash for cards so if you have a few cards there is money to be made. Out of country registration is going to start soon in Iran and Pakistan. It is estimated that there are 1,000,000 voters in Iran and 2,000,000 in Pakistan. Should be fun.
A film has been made called ‘Convoy of Death’ which covers the murder of thousands of Taliban by Dostum with American and British special services watching. See review. Apparently there is some film footage showing the involvement of the Americans which Dostum has and will use when necessary.
There are 23 candidates for president including Dostum, other murderers and one woman. The defense minister, who is one of the most powerful war lords, was not chosen by Karzai as his vice president. This has not resulted in any fighting yet. Karzai in a smart move chose instead Masood’s brother as vice president. Masood is a national hero and was killed just prior to September 11th. Some say he was not a hero but as big a butcher as the rest of the leaders of the northern alliance.
Have a look at some of the articles. Some are quite short and give you an idea of what is happening here and the issues.