Ban calls on all Afghans to cast their votes in tomorrows elections

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said that by participating in the elections, “the Afghan people will help Afghanistan strengthen its democratic institutions, bring fresh vigour to the country’s political life, and ultimately reaffirm their commitment to contribute to the peace and prosperity of their nation.”He also called on all election candidates, their supporters, political party agents and both domestic and international observers “to continue to cooperate with the Independent Election Commission, other relevant Afghan institutions and international stakeholders supporting electoral preparations, to ensure a smooth and successful electoral process.”Afghanistan has been beset by violence during the election campaign, including two suicide bomb attacks since the weekend in the capital, Kabul. In the latest attack, which occurred yesterday, two United Nations staff members were among those killed.Earlier this month a report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) found that the prevailing insecurity was affecting preparations for the elections, especially for women.Tomorrow’s elections will feature an estimated 40 presidential candidates and another 3,195 candidates for the provincial council. 19 August 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged all eligible Afghan men and women to cast their ballots in tomorrow’s presidential and provincial elections, saying their votes will play a crucial role in helping the country on the path towards greater stability and democracy. read more

TNA ready to discuss UNP proposal

The UNP constitution also proposes as a novel system the executive powers of the President to be exercised on apolitical basis and to be subject to checks and balances.Under the Westminster system the Cabinet of Ministers will be restricted to 25 including the Prime Minister. He said that as the proposal is open for discussion in order to have a final document the TNA is willing to have discussions with the UNP. The main opposition UNP had last week made public its proposed constitution which includes a British style Westminster system for the Cabinet. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) says it is ready to discuss the proposals put forward by the UNP for a new constitution.TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran said that the proposal put forward by the UNP is only a structure and not a final document. The proposed constitution of the UNP also guarantees the freedom of expression and will be strengthened to include the right to information.It also proposes that the system of preference votes be abolished and the tenure of the Parliament and the Provincial Council fixed at five years. (Colombo Gazette)CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO read more

Jack Shepherd could be forced to pay back legal aid as MoJ

A fugitive who killed his date in a speedboat crash could be forced to pay back more than £30,000 in legal aid, it emerged on Friday, as he was jailed for at least three months in Georgia. Jack Shepherd, 31, is being investigated by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) following revelations that he took out loans totalling £50,000 before going on the run. He is also paying his Georgian legal team thousands to handle his fight against extradition. If he is found to have falsely claimed legal aid, or moved assets around to avoid detection, he will have to repay the money he was awarded to fight his original manslaughter case. Shepherd is also receiving taxpayers’ cash to appeal his manslaughter conviction…