Abdullah says all the right things, but Rashid’s not so sure

Abdullah is saying al the right things about the deal with Ghani, giving some hope that the inauguration may actually go forward next week, which we certainly doubted at a few points.  Tolo quoted Abduallah as saying:

“Together, we, the government of national unity, will be able to address the problems of the country. “We’ve come together, hand in hand, to work toward a better tomorrow.”

He even went so far as to apologize somewhat for his role in the electoral chaos and attempted to somewhat justify the drawn out process (though nothing along those lines from Ghani yet): “I apologize to the nation that the election process was not completed sooner.  All our negotiations in the past months have been to ensure the interests of the nation.” (See the entire article on Tolo here)

Not everyone, however, is convinced and yesterday noted analyst Ahmed Rashid wrote an op-ed in The New York Times, which is a scathing (to put it mildly) critique of 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

Why Results Matter Part II

With many breathing a sign of relief as the Abdullah and Ghani have announced a still unspecified power sharing arrangement, the rather surreal Alice in Wonderland approach to elections continues.  On Saturday a deal was announced between Abdullah and Ghani which made Ghani president and Abdullah was given a Chief Executive position.  It was only after this deal was announced at a press conference with the two candidates that the ‘Independent’ Election Commission announced that Ghani had won the election (for more see this NYT article here).  During the announcement, however, no results were released.  Nor were final number of votes invalidated or total number of votes casts mentioned.  This is in sharp contrast with earlier rounds of voting when the IEC has released detailed results regarding polling station numbers even before the results were finalized.

As a result, it is clear that part of the deal was that the results would Continue reading

Why Results Matter

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

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

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:

What if the recount doesn’t work?

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.

Part of these fears surely stems from the starting and Continue reading

Fallout from “the Deal”

We’ll be following up on some of our concerns about the notion of “opposition” in the Afghan government that seems to be part of the emerging discussion of the deal between Abdullah and Ghani over the next couple of days, but wanted to do a quick roundup of some of the pieces coming out about the current situation and the path forward.  Both the NYT and Washington Post quickly followed the situation with editorials that praised Kerry’s work and applauded the deal.  While we certainly fell this created some short term stability, it’s unclear still first of all how close Afghanistan really was to the brink of political collapse.  It also remains to be seen what the longer term impact of this deal will be on Afghan democracy.  In contrast with these pieces, Bloomberg has a much more balanced piece that is worth a read at call “Afghanistan Needs Some Local Control.”  In particular, it points to some of the concerns with Kerry’s second intervention in electoral politics in Afghanistan and the need for the Afghan government to be able to provide internal mediators as well.  As one Afghan friend told me “personally, when he arrived, I was sure  that John Kerry would solve the situation.  At the same time, this was very disappointing  for many Afghans including myself, since it showed that Afghans do not have the capacity to solve their own problem and need to turn to the US Secretary of State.”  It’s also time to start thinking about how the current crisis could actually be an opportunity to reform the Afghan government.  The Economist starts to do this, even if the tone may be a bit overly optimistic (see here).