Crisis in Kabul

July 12, 2014 - 1:28:25 am

If the presidential run-off was fraudulent, Afghanistan must go for re-election or find a solution that is fully acceptable to Abdullah as he is the victim of this fraud.

Taliban alone are not the enemy of Afghanistan. Its own government and officials are contributing to the current instability, as if what the country is going through is not enough. Nothing else can explain the stalemate stemming from allegations of poll fraud, and indications are that this crisis will leave wounds that will fester for a long time even if a solution is found soon.

The problems erupted nearly a month ago after Abdullah Abdullah, a presidential candidate, who won the first round of voting in April but fell short of a majority, accused the country’s election commission of helping the government secure a victory for his opponent in the June 14 runoff. Preliminary results released by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) showed Ghani in the lead with 56 percent, a stunning turnaround from the first round, in which he secured just 32 percent. In the first round April 5, Abdullah won 45 percent of the vote, but now he trails Ghani with just 43 percent. Complicating matters, the IEC Chairman Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani admitted that the results had been marred by widespread vote-rigging and cautioned that the figures were not final tallies.

Since then, Abdullah has threatened to form a parallel government, pushing the country into a dangerous point. His threat was condemned by Washington, which is the chief donor of the state and said it would not tolerate any such action and would withdraw aid. The US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kabul yesterday to push for a resolution. He met with both candidates — former Foreign Minister Abdullah and former World Bank executive Ashraf Ghani. He also met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and UN officials.

It’s easy to threaten Abdullah with action, and it’s also wrong on his part to precipitate a situation that would create instability and chaos. But unfortunately, there is a lack of seriousness on the part of Afghan government to look into the charges he has made and find a convincing solution. First of all, the election commission itself has admitted the results had been marred by widespread vote-rigging which convincingly questions Ghani’s claimed victory. Secondly, though the election commission has ‘Independent’ in its name, it is not genuinely independent considering that it failed to prevent the vote-rigging. The commission is working under the government of Karzai and therefore is likely to be influenced by the rulers in Kabul. This is not a conjecture because Afghanistan’s system is corrupt and riddled with flaws. Third, by adopting a tough stance against Abdullah, is the US indicating a preference for Ghani?

If the run-off was fraudulent, the country must go for re-election or find a solution that is fully acceptable to Abdullah as he is the victim of this fraud. Kerry’s visit should be focused on that.