Head of election monitoring group gunned down in Afghan capital
Kabul (Reuters) – A prominent advocate of democracy in Afghanistan who headed an election monitoring organisation was gunned down on Wednesday in a Kabul neighbourhood, drawing widespread condemnation locally and internationally.
Yousuf Rasheed, executive director of the Free and Fair Elections Forum of Afghanistan Organization (FEFA), was shot dead while his driver was wounded, Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz confirmed.
No one has claimed responsibility.
Rasheed was on his way to office when his car was ambushed, according to FEFA Programme Manager Naeem Asghari. The organisation had been scheduled to hold a press conference on Wednesday on the creation of a proper system to monitor peace talks between the Afghan government and the insurgent Taliban, he added.
The two sides began talks in September in Qatar, but recently took a break to consult their leaderships as negotiations enter a critical phase at the start of next year.
Violence in Afghanistan has risen, with an uptick in unclaimed bombings and shootings targeting activists, journalists and government officials.
The Taliban have denied involvement in most of the attacks, including the one on Rasheed.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the killing and praised Rasheed’s work in promoting democratic values and transparency of electoral processes, according to statement from his office.
Rasheed’s assassination was also condemned by the United States, which has been pushing the Taliban and the Afghan government to end a war that has kept western forces in Afghanistan for over 19 years.
“His voice will not be silenced. The future of Afghanistan cannot be foreclosed by murder but must be resolved at the negotiating table,” the U.S. State Department said on Twitter, adding that Rasheed was a “tireless advocate for democracy.”