Home Contact Us  
   

Afghanistan - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4516, 16 June 2014
 
Afghanistan: Political Crises After the Presidential Run-off
Mariam Safi
Founding Director, Organisation for Policy Research and Development Studies
 

The second round of the Afghan presidential elections held on 4 June saw Afghans returning to the polling stations in large numbers with no regard for Taliban threats.

Unfortunately, instead of resulting in a successful end to a long and uncertain political transition, the run-off has left Afghans fearing the worst. The runoff has been bogged down by corruption charges against the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC).  Questions have been raised over Karzai’s neutrality, a spurious 7 million-voter turnout forecast, and threats by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s team to derail the elections. These issues have also combined to bring Afghanistan to the brink of political crises. To understand how Afghanistan went from a successful election to a troubled political process, it is important to examine how the two elections differed from one another.

Voter Turn-out
The voter turnout was expected to be lower in the second round primarily because of the absence of provincial elections which provoked higher turn outs the first time round. Observers and local media channels affirmed this on Election Day. However they were quickly contradicted by the IEC that claimed there were potentially over 7 million votes casted, with 38 per cent female turn out – a figure that left many in Kabul scratching their heads.

Thomas Ruttig, an analyst, stated that the number of distributed voter cards is “so botched that no reliable, consolidated voter registry exists.” Thus, if we go by the the IEC Chairman Yusuf Nouristani’s, claims of approximately 7 million out of the 13.5 million eligible voters and 58 per cent votes on 14 June, the figures do not match. Nuristani’s “absolute figures (number of voters who turned out) does not match the relative figures (percentages),” Ruttig further stated. First, considering that the IEC had 23,136 polling stations open and each station had been approved for 600 ballot papers, this would mean there were 13,881,600 ballot papers. Therefore, 58 per cent of the total printed ballot papers would mean that there were over 8 million voters and not 7 million as suggested by the IEC. Moreover there are approximately 21 million voter cards floating around, which means if the maximum number of eligible voters is put at 13.5 million then 7.5 million of these are illegal.  The crux of the voter turnout issue being contested by Abdullah lies with the country’s outdated population statistics which last conducted a census in 1979. Hence, any claims concerning population statistics stands on shaky grounds.

Ethnicisation 
Some international media reports have claimed that the influence of ethnic loyalties as a determining factor in Afghan politics has declined over the years. However, while this may hold some truth, it is still not enough to suggest a real change in local attitudes. Ethnicity is still a determining factor in Afghan politics regardless of these truths.  

There have been innumerable instances in the 2014 elections where Ashraf Ghani’s Pashtun and Abdullah’s mujahiddin- Jamiat party rhetoric’s have espoused ethnicisation. The New York Times’ Mathew Rosenberg recalls that in Afghanistan, winners of elections “are populists who cut deals with their enemies, win support from their rivals and appeal to Afghan national pride.” A reality, Rosenberg correctly argues, Ghani has “embraced” well after years of “inhibiting the role of pro-western intellect” he added – a quality, Abdullah, a veteran of Afghan politicking has not been known to shy away from either. Similarly, senior supporters in both camps have also done much to bank on the ethnicity card. Atta Muhammad Noor, Governor, Balkh province, and a Jamiat commander and supporter of Abdullah, took to the media when the ECC accused his province of producing fraudulent votes. He said both the bodies [ECC and IEC] should “avoid telling lies and bringing themselves under question.” He also went further to state that he would not partake in the new government if Ghani wins. On the other hand, a senior Ghani supporter, Juma Khan Hamdaar, Governor, Paktia province, during a rally in Balkh called on Pashtuns and Uzbeks to display their loyalties to their tribes and vote for Ghani.

Corruption 
Unlike the first round, this time, the campaign tones have been far more accusatory as both the candidates entered a fierce dispute over early tallies showing Ghani with a lead of almost one million.

In the first round of elections, the ECC audited 1964 polling sites out of 20,561, resulting in the disqualification of 525 polling stations. While the disqualified polling sites were kept out of the preliminary results, an additional 444 sites deemed problematic were kept out to avoid further delay in the announcement of the preliminary results. As a result, it was only later that 291of these 444 sites were audited and considered acceptable and then added to the final count.  The process of disqualifying votes while simultaneously adding new votes not counted earlier made the final results exceedingly ambiguous.  

Additionally, according to analysts, the IEC did not audit all the 444 polling stations. The Afghan Analyst Network’s Martine van Bijlert argues that “in most cases only one or a few, of the polling stations were audited.” This suggests that the IEC’s auditing framework was far too constricted, “strictly following indicators rather than trying to ascertain and address the total level of fraud” in the first round of elections.

Consequently, the outcome of the first round of votes had both clean and dirty ballots counted. Yet both candidates accepted the final results and prepared for the second round.

The international community has urged both the presidential candidates to discuss their concerns with the electoral commissions – a key reason why these bodies exist in the first place. However, Abdullah’s halting of the IEC’s process means abandonment of the legal process and framework. A shift away from this framework and appealing directly to the public can put the political transition process in jeopardy and may provoke further instability.

Now, the UN has the daunting task of mediating between the two candidates in an effort to determine Afghanistan’s political future. So far the UN has been very cautious by maintaining that whatever role is given for it to play it is with the consensus of all parties involved, avoiding any possible inferences of interfering in Afghan affairs. At the current juncture, Afghans can only hope that a solution arises, and quickly, to mitigate the political crises Afghanistan finds itself in and ensure people’s faith remains strong in the democratic process.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 
Related Articles
Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy,
"Afghan Presidential Run-off: Things that Matter," 30 May 2014
Mariam Safi,
"Presidential Elections 2014: Afghan-Owned, Afghan-Led," 21 April 2014
Mariam Safi,
"Afghan Elections 2014: What to Expect?," 17 March 2014

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Af-Pak: A Fresh Start

Can Afghanistan Become a "Perfect Place?"

Talibanís Spring Offensive: Are the ANSF Prepared?

Presidential Elections 2014: Afghan-Owned, Afghan-Led

Afghan Elections 2014: What to Expect?

Afghanistan, US and the Peace Process: A Deal with the Taliban in 2014?

Bonn II: From Transition to Transformation in Afghanistan

NATO Breakdown in Afghanistan

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.