Early Analysis of a Fragile Agreement

Two pieces of additional analysis of the deal as the dust starts to settle.  The first is a piece from AREU on the constitutional implications and challenges presented by the deal.  Perhaps the most interesting paragraph suggests:

“It is unfortunate that neither the United Nations, who assumed responsibility for conducting a 100% audit of the votes cast, nor the IEC saw fit to release the election results before the signing of the Agreement.  Reports in the media suggest that Continue reading

Discontent Grumbling or the Beginning of the End

Over the past days both analysts and Afghan voters have been trying to sort out what Ghani and Abdullah’s agreement will mean for the political future of Afghanistan.  One of the things that is clear is that the agreement will only work if supported by the vast majority of key political players in the country.  There is particular concern about some of Abdullah’s hardline supporters.  As these leaders, however, begin to respond to the agreement, the crucial question is whether their complaints are simply political positioning or whether they signal genuine dissent which could lead to an unraveling of the deal.  Already Governor Atta, a key Abdullah supporter, has come out stating that Ghani is not actually the president (see excerpts from an interview on Khaama here) and some parliamentarians are suggesting that Election Commission officials should actually be put on trial (see the Tolo article here).

There are two important things to keep in mind here: First of all, no one should be surprised by Continue reading

Parliament Speaks Up


Tolo News photo

As the deadlock drags out, their is a growing number of pleas for some sort of resolution to the crisis from President Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (see the VOA article here), to the ordinary Afghans who are sick of the situation.  Add to that list, the Afghan parliament or Wolesi Jirga.  While making numerous statements over the past months, several members, including the speaker of the house, have reiterated their willingness to help mediate the problem (see the Pajhwok article here).  On one level, this group, technically elected by the Afghan people on a province by province basis, could offer another more legitimate venue for mediation.  As ‘representatives’ of the people, this is a way of indirectly re-involving the voters who have essentially been completely removed from the process.  Additionally, as one law maker suggested, why have international solve the crisis, when the Afghan lawmakers are currently not playing much of a role and should understand the issue much better.  Such an approach has a certain logic, since in the proposed negotiations Kerry, Abdullah and Ghani see a potentially new, stronger role for the Wolesi Jirga.  If the body’s shape and powers are to be reworked, shouldn’t they have  a say in the process?

There are two central problems with Continue reading

Kerry’s House of Cards

Today is September 2, the day Karzai set for the inauguration of the new president.  And with no movement in that direction, it seems as if the deal that Kerry made between the candidates is on the verge of collapse.  The LA Times, WSJ and various other sources are reporting that Abdullah is on the verge of pulling out from the process (see here and here), a decision which most are not finding surprising.  The real question is what will the fall out be from the collapsed process?

The most immediate repercussion is Karzai’s decision to Continue reading

Wise words from Ashraf….

“Legitimacy is not a one-time event conferred through an election or the establishment of a charismatic authority but a continuous process of deepening and broadening the rights and obligations of citizenship”

Ok, perhaps, these are wise words are actually 6 years old from Ghani’s Fixing Failed States with Clare Lockhart, but they are some advice that he, Abdullah and the international community should stick to.  The current emphasis of the international community on the counting process and the how many votes are fraudulent  misses many of the ways in which the current, drawn out process is slowly and inevitably delegitimizing whatever the future government of Afghanistan looks like (for more on this from previous elections see this report on ‘legitimacy’ and elections in Afghanistan).

The constant shifting of rules (most recently here) and the negotiations and re-negotiations means Continue reading

Interim Article Author Arrested

As a follow up to this mornings post, at least some in the Afghan government are taking the rumors of an interim government seriously.  Apparently, Matthew Rosenberg, the NYT writer who penned the article, has been told that he is not permitted to leave the country.  No better way to substantiate rumors that the arrest the person spreading them….Write at your own risk it seems now.

Thoughts on an Interim Government

Today’s NYT article on the potential from an interim government (see here) raises some interesting points and concerns.  Increasingly, the delicate balance between trying to move quickly towards a new government and the need for a thorough review of the ballots is difficult to find.  Every day that passes hurts the economy and Afghanistan’s stability further, but rushing the process could be incredibly costly to the long term legitimacy of the government.  For this reason, an interim government makes sense on several levels, but would it really help solve the crisis?  Here’s a quick run down of some of the costs and benefits that such a deal might create:

Reasons to support an interim government:

Lessons from 2009 and 2010

Here’s a piece that we wrote for the Columbia University Press website on lessons learned from 2009 and 2010:

“Following the last minute intervention of John Kerry, the elections in Afghanistan to replace Hamid Karzai as president, have entered a chaotic period of counting, re-counting and accusations of fraud and corruption. How do we make sense of the power plays that are going on on both sides?

Often forgotten in the mainstream press, these elections are actually the fifth in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in 2001, and turning to look back at some of the lessons from these elections can help us think about the current process. We’ve spent much of the past six years tracking candidates, officials and voters in Afghanistan and our book, Derailing Democracy in Afghanistan: Elections in an Unstable Political Landscape, provides some important lessons.

First, elections are shaped by…continue reading here.

Never Ending Elections

For those wondering what is actually happening during the counting process, the Economist has an interesting post on the current counting process.  Certainly does not sound like there is much of an end in sight:

“THREE airless aluminium warehouses, shaped like giant armadillos, sit hunched on the outskirts of Kabul. Inside hundreds of volunteers and international election observers have been bustling around in stifling heat, arguing over the shape of tick-marks on individual ballots. During Ramadan the lack of food and drink made the stale atmosphere inside the godowns all the more draining.

The Ramadan fast has since broken, but the counting goes on. Until it has finished, the presidential election that was supposed to replace Hamid Karzai hangs in suspension.

After a surprising reversal of fortunes suddenly favoured Ashraf Ghani in the second round of the presidential elections, his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, cried foul. Alleging fraud, several of his powerful supporters threatened to establish a breakaway government.

It took an emergency agreement…Continue reading here.