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

What they are saying about the deal: Part II

We had a previous post on what prominent actors were saying about the lack of a decision (see here).  This is a follow up piece on responses to what is hopefully the decision that resolves the current crisis.

  • Ashraf Ghani: “Peace is our demand and, God willing, it will come…I and Dr. Abdullah are committed to the commitments we have made before the people.” (from The Washington Post here)
  • The White House (see Reuters here) : “This agreement marks an important opportunity for unity and increased stability in Afghanistan.  We continue to call on all Afghans – including political, religious, and civil society leaders – to support this agreement and to come together in calling for cooperation and calm.”
  • The Taliban spokesman in a Continue reading

Growing Impatience

The Wall Street Journal’s article today highlights what they point to as growing support for Karzai remaining on in some role in perhaps an interim government position (see full article here).  On one level this is a sad turn, since, as we argued in earlier pieces, much of the initial turn out of voters was in support of moving past the Karzai era (see the full report).  What this demonstrates is how far the process has descended and how much distrust there is now between the candidates, but also between the voters and the two main candidates.  We heard a lot of voters in the lead up to the elections basically voice their support for “anyone who is not Karzai”.  Evidence of this was found in Zelmai Rassoul, supposedly Karzai’s favored candidates, abysmal showing (11%), which eliminated him from contention (though there are questions of course about Karzai’s lukewarm support of Rassoul and whether he is still simply playing a longer game).  If Karzai is regaining popular support, Continue reading

The Indecision: What they are saying

As negotiations start and stop and the Afghan economy continues to decay, there’s not much happening other than talk in the media.  So to keep everyone updated on what’s being said, here’s some choice excerpts:


Tolo photo of Karzai opening the new guesthouse

Ahsraf on the current state of negotiations: “We must come together and continue political talks. Afghanistan is the home of all of us; therefore, we need an inclusive national unity government…Our people have always been united. Our enemies should know that we are still united, despite all our political differences,” he asserted. “No one can divide this nation…We supported the 100 percent vote auditing to protect the genuine votes of the people. Therefore, the election commissions must announce the final results in the next few days and rid the nation of the uncertainty that lingers over the country.” (see Tolo)

More from Ghani: “We stood, stand and will stand firm on the formation of the national unity government from the beginning…but it shouldn’t be a two-headed government.” (from Reuters)

Abdullah’s spokesperson, Fazlur Rehman Orya responds: “The problem is the Ashraf Ghani team is trying to impose bogus votes on us. We will not accept them; only clean votes…I would point out one major difference; Ghani favours peace talks with the Taliban and Abdullah does not support any such move.” (see The Express Tribune)

Karzai on the candidates: “We want a new government and that can be brought to us by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.” (see CNN)

Karzai on inaugurating the new presidential guesthouse:  “This beautiful building was constructed in accordance 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

September 10

Further complicating the timing issues for the presidential inuguaration discussed in yesterday’s post, the UN announced today that they plan on finishing the audit on September 10.  This is 8 days after Karzai’s announced inauguration date and 6 days after the NATO conference in Wales.  Difficult to envision how this will work out without some sort of deal or crisis…For more see the VOA article here.

An Inauguration with no President: What’s Karzai’s Next Move?

Stories that the palace is currently in decoration mode for the inauguration scheduled for Sept 2 (see RFL here) are pushing the electoral process to a tipping point.  With both candidates having withdrawn from the auditing process (see the WSJ here), it seems ridiculous to think that the process may be done by Sept 1 and frankly bordering on inconceivable that it will be done in a manner that both candidates accept.  We’ve discussed this foot dragging and the benefits of instability for the political elite before and an Economist editorial today echoes many of the sentiments we’ve been pushing over the past month (see in particular here and here and here).  The editorial begins “It seems everyone wants the Afghan presidential election to be over and done with. Except, maybe, for the two contenders.”  (read the rest here)

The missing part of the analysis is Continue reading

The Price of Legitimacy

afghanistan-pol-e-charkiPrison-newslandingWith less than a week before the potential inauguration, diplomats and the candidates are scrambling to make a deal that will circumvent at least some of the flaws with the current process.  It bears thinking about at this stage, what the price tag of such a deal could be, both in economic terms and in terms of legitimacy.  Whoever the new president will be, will be entering office on incredibly shaky terms.  On one hand deals will have been worked out with the opposing candidate and other political leaders that will ensure them political positions, particularly ministries.  Others will potentially have been paid off in cash it seems.  Pleasing some of the top people in the opposing camp may be possible, but there will be a long line of other leaders looking for positions and hands out.  How far will this go down?

A recent conversation with a researcher who had spent some time interviewing at Puli Charkhi, the central prison in Kabul, revealed some Continue reading

Elections in 2015?

The focus of most of the pieces here has been the elections of 2014 and with the current state of uncertainty, there is certainly still much to be decided. We’ve talked some about the long term repercussions of the current vote (see for example this post on opposition politics or this one on potential fallout out), but it might be worthwhile, however, while the recounting continues to start thinking specifically about the scheduled parliamentary vote in 2015. In past Afghan elections, the international community has often began preparing for the vote at the absolute last minute, so the sooner conversations about the next round of voting start taking place, the better prepared everyone will be. With that in mind, here are some key concerns and questions that
we have begun thinking about:

  • Will the vote take place and when: With the current political disarray there could certainly be a case made for postponing the vote. None of the other parliamentary votes have actually taken place when mandated by the constitution (though all still took place within a calendar year), so it stands to reason that they could be pushed back.  With the chaos and perceived manipulation about the elections this year, however, another round of voting that is significantly delayed could cause long term drop in confidence in the electoral process.  An on time election could make 2014 seem more of a blip in the democratic transition.  There will be costs and benefits with each option.
  • Will constitutional changes alter the  Continue reading

Good News, Bad News: Kerry and Uncomfortable Parallels with 2009

The deal that John Kerry appears to have brokered between Abdullah and Ghani – basically a full recount of all votes cast in the June election – is good news for the short term stability of the country.  A process that seemed on the verge of collapse has been supported by external pressure and demonstrators with the potential to become violent are likely to return home for the coming days.  Taking a longer term view, however, especially looking back at the 2009 vote, there are some real reasons for worry.

In 2009, then-Senator Kerry flew to Kabul to pressure President Karzai to submit to a second round of voting – a process that was adverted when Abdullah withdrew.  While, again, good in the short term, numerous Afghan voters have pointed out to us in interviews about how this was a crucial turning point away from democracy in Afghanistan.  At this moment, it became increasingly clear that Continue reading