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Abdullah Stresses on Transparent Presidential Election

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(Last Updated On: July 15, 2019)

Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of the country, warns that the repentance of the 2014 presidential election’s challenges in the upcoming election can be catastrophic.

Abdullah says that the government official including heads of the defensive and security institutions should not interfere in the upcoming presidential election affairs.

“They do not have the right to campaign in favor or against a candidate,” said Abdullah.

Moreover, he stresses on the engagement of women in the upcoming election.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs says that it has recruited 23 electoral inspectors in the polling day to foster the women’s participation in the upcoming election.

“The Ministry of Women’s Affairs has the responsibility to make the contract of electoral-inspector women according to the recruitment criteria and exert their salaries,” said Delbar Nazari, the Minister of Women’s Affairs.

In addition, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) calls for women to participate in the upcoming election to ensure its transparency.

“The women should not consider their role inconsequential in the national processes,” said Hawa Alam Nooristani, the Chief of IED.

This comes as the people of Afghanistan and IEC are supposed to go for the presidential election on September 28th.

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Finland’s FM warns against ‘donor fatigue’ at upcoming Geneva summit

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(Last Updated On: October 31, 2020)

The Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Friday the world must not forget about Afghanistan nor allow for “donor fatigue” during next month’s pledging summit in Geneva.  

Delivering a speech at the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, Haavisto said: “As the international donors prepare for the conference in Geneva in November this year, our message to the donors will be not to forget Afghanistan. 

“We all need peace in Afghanistan, particularly the neighboring countries like Iran, Pakistan and India.

“They all agree that the peace in Afghanistan is necessary for them also,” he said. 

“Our battle while preparing for the conference is to convince the donors to commit for the development in Afghanistan. There should be no donor fatigue,” he said adding that “unfortunately the aid has not come for all areas in the country.”

Referring to the ongoing peace talks in Doha between the Afghan government representatives and the Taliban, and Qatar’s role in hosting the negotiations, Haavisto said: “This is very important phase of the process taking place here. The role of Qatar in bringing the parties together is appreciable. There are always people who promote cynicism whenever there are peace negotiations. I am however hopeful for the success of the ongoing process.”

Responding to a question about inclusivity in the peace talks of all sectors of society, Haavisto said: “I will try and make sure that the issue of including women and minorities in the donors’ conference. I always say that women and youth are very important stakeholders in any peacemaking attempt. The education for Afghan women is a key issue.”

Finland will co-host next month’s donor conference which aims to commit the Afghan government and the international community to shared development objectives for 2021-2024 as well as ensure financial support for the Afghan administration.

But unlike previous donor conferences, this year Afghan officials and international donors will face a changed situation. In the past, the focus has been on tying financial assistance to government reform amid an ongoing war with the Taliban. 

This year, peace talks are underway with the Taliban and government and a new Afghanistan could lie ahead but when officials and donors meet, they will face a changed, more fragile situation and the outcome of the summit is uncertain, 

In a recent analysis by the United States Institute of Peace, the organization stated the donor conference “could effectively promote development and peace in Afghanistan, or it could turn out to be counterproductive. 

“That will depend on whether participants come together and focus on a four-year development and peace framework or allow the meeting to be hijacked by one of several conflicting agendas that might undermine the peace process.”

More than 70 nations and organizations will attend the conference – countries and organizations that share an interest in Afghanistan’s development.  

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Saudi man crashes car into gate at Mecca’s Grand Mosque

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(Last Updated On: October 31, 2020)

A Saudi man crashed his speeding car into the outer gates of Mecca’s Grand Mosque on Friday night, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The incident happened at about 10.30 pm when the man drove through a barrier and kept driving until he hit the gate at the Grand Mosque’s southern side. 

Police arrested the man who appeared to be in an “abnormal” condition, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

The man was then referred to prosecutors for possible charges. 

The Grand Mosque houses the cube-shaped Kaaba that observant Muslims pray toward five times a day. 

The mosque had been shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, but recently reopened to small groups of pilgrims. 

 

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EITI: Afghanistan achieves transparency despite barriers

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(Last Updated On: October 30, 2020)

Following its second Validation, Afghanistan has made meaningful progress in implementing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Standard.

Afghanistan has been a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative since 2010, but its membership in the organization was suspended due to its inadequate implementation in 2014 and 2017.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in a statement on Thursday said that Afghanistan has improved its transparency of licenses and contracts, state-owned enterprises and quasi-fiscal expenditures. As a result, Afghanistan’s temporary suspension has been lifted.

EITI board congratulates Afghanistan for addressing shortcoming identified in its first validation through systematic disclosures of data delivered by concrete reforms in government systems. 

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani noted the important role the EITI plays in the country. “Every citizen has the right to know who is developing the country’s natural resources and how the government is managing the revenues from these industries on their behalf,” he said. “The EITI is one of the tools that is helping us achieve this policy objective. It has been instrumental in supporting our institution-building efforts in a sector critical to the economic future of Afghanistan.”

The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum announced Thursday that Afghanistan has rejoined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

Building transparent institutions and systems

Afghanistan’s government has embraced open data platforms, establishing online reporting systems to enhance transparency of extractive sector management and to address shortcomings identified in its first Validation. This has been achieved in an evolving political environment marked by presidential elections in 2019 and intra-Afghan peace negotiations in 2020. The World Bank underscored the EITI’s value in driving public finance management reforms in a context of fragility and violence.

In 2018, the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MOMP) launched a new Transparency Portal, providing information on licenses, fiscal terms, legal and beneficial ownership information, production data and non-tax company payments to government. Since then, the portal has become even more comprehensive.

Taking action to improve accountability

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are important players in Afghanistan’s extractive sector, accounting for nearly two thirds of government extractive revenues between 2008 and 2017. Two SOEs – Afghan Gas Enterprise and North Coal Enterprise – are strategic for the government’s plans to improve revenue generation from the sector.

In 2019, Afghanistan undertook the landmark achievement of auditing the two SOEs for the first time. This exercise highlighted gaps in the SOEs’ record-keeping and financial management, and was a necessary step in the government’s plans to corporatise the enterprises. Moving forward, the government will need to ensure auditing becomes regular practice, drawing on EITI support to follow-up on findings.

Afghanistan’s government has legislated for beneficial ownership information to be made public for mining, oil and gas licenses. The country began publishing ownership data on its Transparency Portal earlier this year. Yet more work needs to be done to ensure that all beneficial owners are publicly disclosed, including politically-exposed persons and owners who control companies through non-equity means.

Strengthening multi-stakeholder oversight

EITI Board Chair Helen Clark commented on the significance of Afghanistan’s recent progress. “Afghanistan has made concrete achievements in improving transparency despite challenging circumstances,” she said. “The priority should be to draw on this emerging transparency for policy-making in the sector. This is key to broader economic development efforts and ensuring that all citizens have an opportunity to engage in debate on the governance of the sector.”

Data from EITI reporting – spanning several legislative changes and wide commodity price fluctuations over the past decade – provides a key resource to support further research and analysis. But despite proactive dissemination efforts, including in provincial capitals, there is a lack of data use by diverse stakeholders.

Yet an initiative by Integrity Watch Afghanistan stands out. The civil society organisation is expanding its community-based monitoring programme to include extractive activities, empowering host communities to track the impacts of extractive projects in their areas. Stronger engagement in EITI implementation by government, industry and civil society could lead to more such innovations.

Afghanistan’s informal mining sector is one area where there is a high demand for data. While the government collects USD 45m a year in mining revenue, it is estimated that more than six times that amount is being lost through unmonitored, small-scale mining activities. There is strong interest, particularly from civil society, to use EITI reporting to shed more light on unrecorded mining and support efforts to formalise the sector.

According to EITI Afghanistan will have 18 months (28 April 2022) to address the remaining five “Corrective actions” in its implementation of the EITI Standard.

The Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum said that the ministry renewing its commitment to implement the corrective actions of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is an international organization that ensures transparency in the country’s mines, gas and oil.

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