KABUL (Reuters) – Regardless of pulling off a safer presidential election than anticipated, Afghanistan appears headed for a chronic interval of political uncertainty, with the 2 front-runners claiming victory earlier than ballots are tallied and signaling they’d not settle for defeat.
Afghan election fee staff switch knowledge from biometric units to the primary server at a warehouse in Kabul, Afghanistan October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
The scenario echoes 2014, when candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah alleged huge fraud by one another, forcing america to dealer a clumsy power-sharing association that made Ghani president. Each males, front-runners once more, say they’d not settle for the same association this time.
On the identical time, Taliban insurgents rule extra of the nation than at any time since they had been ousted from energy practically twenty years in the past, and have refused to simply accept the legitimacy of what they name a puppet U.S.-backed authorities.
The unity authorities between the 2 candidates holds energy till the winner is chosen and takes workplace.
Outcomes are anticipated on Oct. 19. If neither man wins over half the votes, a runoff would happen.
“There may be severe danger of an prolonged political disaster and divisive battle over the end result, whereas the Taliban stay successfully unified,” mentioned Colin Cookman, a program officer with the U.S. Institute of Peace, who has analyzed Afghan politics since 2008.
Petr Stepanek, ambassador of the Czech Republic to Afghanistan, mentioned a second spherical of voting presumably wouldn’t be held till spring, prolonging the uncertainty.
“The election fee can say, ‘the climate is unhealthy’ and postpone it for a few months,” Stepanek mentioned. “Then we may have a weak authorities. A lame duck.”
About four,500 complaints have been filed for the reason that Sept. 28 election, offering attainable ammunition for the loser to reject the outcomes. The Unbiased Election Fee mentioned on Sunday that some biometric verification machines had been misplaced.
Turnout was an estimated 2.6 million votes, about one-quarter of eligible voters, following threats by the Taliban towards voting stations.
Negotiations about withdrawing U.S. troops in change for Taliban safety ensures broke down in September, though the 2 sides held exploratory talks in Islamabad final week.
The subsequent step could be negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan authorities a couple of ceasefire and the Taliban’s future function. The militant group has up to now rejected any talks with the federal government.
LITTLE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT
The Ghani camp has dismissed fears of a chronic political stalemate.
This election included extra checks and balances than ever to stop fraud, leaving Abdullah little to complain about if he loses, mentioned Daoud Sultanzoy, a senior Ghani marketing campaign chief.
He mentioned he believes Ghani dominated Afghanistan’s cities and eroded Abdullah’s help in northern areas, giving him a snug first-ballot win.
“The method is probably the most clear we’ve ever used,” Sultanzoy mentioned. “Any person has to place (Abdullah) in his place. Sufficient is sufficient.”
Requested if Ghani would settle for an Abdullah victory, Sultanzoy mentioned that risk was “far-fetched.”
Abdullah is equally sure that his coalition of ethnic Hazaras, Tajiks, Uzbeks and a few Pashtuns has made him a winner, mentioned his spokesman, Mujib Rahman Rahimi.
Nevertheless the Abdullah camp is worried about quite a few irregularities, akin to improbably excessive turnouts in insecure areas. Abdullah would settle for defeat if the election is clear and solely biometrically verified votes are counted, Rahimi mentioned, including that he has confidence within the fee.
However Abdullah won’t settle for a tainted vote, he mentioned.
“He instructions the actual energy in Afghanistan,” Rahimi mentioned. “If he comes out ‘no’ (to the consequence) the nation will collapse. We should always not go that route, that’s our hope.”
Diplomats, talking anonymously due to the sensitivity of the scenario, mentioned the extra confusion that overhangs the Afghan authorities, the better will probably be for the Taliban to fill the vacuum. Current overseas visits by the Taliban might assist legitimize the group, they are saying.
In Islamabad final week, Taliban members hugged Pakistan’s overseas minister and exchanged items earlier than the cameras. The Taliban – which calls itself the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – then raised points which can be the standard area of presidency, such because the plight of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
The visits are “regular political actions” deliberate way back, and aren’t any try and fill a management vacuum, mentioned Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
He added that the political uncertainty in Kabul is of no concern, for the reason that Taliban considers the election illegitimate.
Reporting by Rod Nickel and Hamid Shalizi in Kabul; further reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi; Enhancing by Raju Gopalakrishnan