In secret ballot elections held late Thursday, Afghanistan’s national assembly—the loya jirga—selected current interim leader Hamid Karzai as the next head of state, serving until the 2004 elections. Karzai emerged with 1,295 of the more than 1,500 votes cast. Female physician Massouda Jalal finished as runner-up with 171 votes, despite efforts by Defense Minister Marshal Fahim to undermine her candidacy by calling it un-Islamic. Jalal had gathered 160 signatures—10 more than required—from a nearly 90 percent male delegation to be on the ballot.
In elections early Thursday morning, Professor Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar was elected as chairman of the loya jirga. Current interim women’s affairs minister Sima Samar was appointed as first deputy chair of proceedings of the loya jirga. After a long day wrought by arguments and complaints, several delegates expressed appreciation and excitement about the loya jirga experience. According to Ashraf Ghani Ahmedzai, senior adviser to Mr. Karzai, the loya jirga “is an exercise in voice…the people of Afghanistan are acquiring voice for the first time in 23 years.” H. Aktar Mohammed, an ethnic Pashtun from Ghazni province added: “It’s the first time ever in our history that we are witnessing such a situation. I like watching the people line up to vote.”
Media Resources: BBC 6/13/02; NY Times 6/13/02; Feminist Majority 6/12/02
4/15/2014 Virginia Bishops Advocate More Abortion Restrictions for Poor Women - Using the Medicaid expansion debate as a platform, the Virginia Catholic Conference issued a statement Friday calling for the repeal of a Virginia law that allows state funding of abortion care for Medicaid recipients in situations where the fetus exhibits a "gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity" or a "gross and totally incapacitating mental deficiency."
Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of the Diocese of Richmond and Bishop Paul Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington authored the statement which urges Virginia lawmakers to act to expand Medicaid to cover more of Virginia's poor. . . .