One of the three main contenders in Afghanistan’s presidential election admitted yesterday that he had been offered a power-sharing deal by President Karzai in an apparent attempt to sideline the other leading candidate and avoid a second-round vote.
Ashraf Ghani, a former academic and World Bank executive, told The Times that a “weakening” Mr Karzai had attempted to persuade him to abandon his campaign in exchange for the position of prime minister in a new Karzai administration.
Mr Ghani, who was Finance Minister in Mr Karzai’s first Cabinet, said that he was “listening” to the approaches from Mr Karzai’s intermediaries but was not giving up his campaign for the election on August 20. “An offer was made. It was for a position as ‘chief executive’ [in the Cabinet],” he said. “The details were not worked out. I am not discontinuing my election campaign.”
The proposed deal could seriously undermine the campaign of the other major contender in the election, Abdullah Abdullah, who is widely regarded as the main threat to Mr Karzai’s continued grip on power. [continued…]
The Afghan and U.S. governments have launched a new effort to enlist tribal fighters from many of the country’s most violent provinces in the war against the Taliban, hoping that a tactic first used in Iraq can help turn the tide here as well.
Thousands of armed tribal fighters from 18 Afghan provinces will initially be hired to provide security for elections on Aug. 20, officials from both countries said. If the security is effective, Afghan officials say they will try to give the tribesmen permanent jobs protecting their villages and neighborhoods.
The tribal initiative is being run by a new branch of the Afghan government called the Independent Directorate for the Protection of Highways and Public Property. In coming days, officials from the agency will ask tribal shuras, or councils, in participating provinces to organize armed militias to guard polling places, roads and public gathering spaces. [continued…]
Al-Qai’da militants may be trying to install their own “chief terrorist” to succeed Baitullah Mehsud as the head of the Pakistan Taliban following his death during a US drone strike, Pakistan’s top security official believes.
The head of the country’s interior ministry, Rehman Malik, said the Pakistan Taliban was in disarray following last week’s targeted killing of Mehsud and that in the ensuing uncertainty al-Qa’ida was using its influence to try to ensure it selected his replacement.
Mr Malik voiced his concern as Pakistan said it was trying to collect DNA evidence to conclusively confirm the Taliban commander’s death in the rugged and inaccessible wilds of Taliban-controlled South Waziristan. Pakistani authorities will try to compare a sample to the DNA of one of Mehsud’s brothers, killed in a previous strike. [continued…]