The Spanish defense minister, Carme Chacón, said Wednesday that five years would be a “reasonable” timeframe for NATO forces to withdraw from Afghanistan, just as major European powers officially called on the United Nations to convene an international conference before the end of the year to set new “benchmarks and timelines.”
Mrs. Chacón also said she would request 220 more troops for Spain’s Afghanistan contingent, bringing the permanent deployment there to about 1,000. With the additional troops, Spain’s contribution would still fall behind those of 10 other NATO members, led by the United States, Britain, France and Germany. Spain’s government is expected to approve the request Friday at a cabinet meeting.
Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero had already said in July that troop levels would probably increase. [continued…]
The U.N.-funded elections watchdog in Afghanistan has begun to throw out fraudulent ballots from the country’s presidential balloting, a day after a tally including contested votes put President Hamid Karzai over the 50% he needs to avoid a second round.
The Electoral Complaints Commission, a United Nations-sponsored body responsible for investigating allegations of fraud and misconduct, has been looking into more than 600 serious accusations, Commissioner Grant Kippen said. The accusations include instances of ballot stuffing and voter intimidation. In some cases, the commission has disqualified results from entire polling stations. [continued…]