In one of the first pieces of good news in months regarding the election in Afghanistan, today, Ghani and Abdullah signed a deal to establish a power sharing government. Despite this good news, there are still worryingly few details and plenty of room for the arrangement to disintegrate. In a typical quote on the deal Reuters wrote: “Both sides said late on Saturday that the dispute over announcing results had been resolved but it was still unclear exactly what had been agreed upon.” (See full article here) The real question is whether the Afghan public will support a new arrangement and when so little information is being given to them, it’s hard to tell whether they should or not. Even the White House, which has been overly optimistic throughout this process seemed hesitant stating: “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.”
Then next few days should begin to indicate whether there is support for this arrangement, but in the meantime, here’s a brief list of things that we don’t know about the deal:
With rumors of a deal finally being reached (see the Khaama article here), there is plenty to worry about in terms of Afghanistan’s troubled transition: what will the powers of the Chief Executive be? Will the new structure actually be constitutional? Etc. But before all those issues are even addressed, the news that the results of the second round of voting may never be released is perhaps most worrying for the future of Afghan democracy (see the NYT article here). There are understandable reasons why Abdullah, about to concede the presidency despite massive corruption and a flawed voter system for the second time in five years might want the results kept quiet, but doing so would be a mistake. Not releasing the results sets the precedent that the votes never really matter. It will emphasize Continue reading →
With 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 →
“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 →
So far, the media and international diplomats still seem optimistic, if frustrated with the current re-count in the Afghan presidential election. However, as the counting goes on, each day seems to present new challenges and while most seem to feel that there is no way that the Kerry deal could break down, it’s time for the international community to at least start considering worst case scenarios: particularly, what if the count fails to generate a new president and a credible transfer of power.
While the re-count goes on and Afghan voters wait to see what type of government system will emerge, John Kerry published an op-ed today meant to declare US government support for the process and to also clarify some of the political rumors that are swirling. His op-ed (which can be read in full here) did the former, but not the later.
The following are some observations and a guest post from Mohammad Hasan Wafaey:
“The deal between Ghani and Abdullah has made John Kerry seem very strong, since the representatives were able to come up with even a basic solution to the situation and it seems that they were eventually just waiting for Kerry to arrive in Kabul. It was only once he was there, after long hours with the candidates individually and with Karzai and his vice presidents that they were able to eventually break the deadlock. The long meetings with all the key leaders show how difficult and precarious these negotiations were.