On this day to commemorate Ahmad Shah Massoud, assassinated two days before 9/11, the deadlock continues. Both candidates, as well as Karzai attended a loya jirga ceremony to celebrate the occasion (see the KP piece here). While all three avoided overtly inflammatory remarks, Tolo did report “chaos” breaking out at one point (see here). The innuendoes and hints of violence that we have discussed before (see here) also still continue. Today’s Washington Post piece by Tim Craig quotes Abdullah as saying:
‘“We are the winner of the election based on the clean votes of the people,” said Abdullah, claiming that the vote was plagued by widespread fraud. “Fraud, fraudulent results and the announcement of the fraudulent results are not acceptable.” (for the entire article, see here)
What it means to be “acceptable” and what it means to “reject” the vote are, of course, left hanging dangerously in the air. The fact that the campaigns have decided that they can determine what is “clean” and not in the election demonstrates how far the IEC has fallen and even with a speedy settlement is going to set a dangerous precedent for elections in Afghanistan.
The fact that all three appeared in public together certainly does suggest that they are still hopeful of some sort of settled resolution, but the time for that may be narrowing, with the IEC stating that it is preparing to announce their results regardless of protests by the candidates.
Andrew Wilder is quoted in the WP piece as saying: I think they are running out of time, Afghanistan is going to need to work hard to maintain the diminishing support it has from the international community, and it’s not going to be able to do that without a president.”
While some overly romanticize Massoud and it is certainly not clear that he would have been able to bring the country together in a way that the current leaders have failed to, it is certain that Massoud cared deeply about his people and it is difficult to image him subjecting the Afghan voters to what Ghani, Abdullah and Karzai are currently doing. So a day for perhaps reflecting on what could have been and to prepare for the consequences of the inability of the political elite to compromise.