Eleven months into Afghanistan’s marathon presidential vote, strains are being felt across government institutions. The two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, made progress by publicly agreeing to respect the results of the audit, but it will take some time still for observers to go through all 8.1 million votes. Meanwhile, the rest of the country has ground to a halt, and stasis is most keenly felt in government bureaucracies, where senior officials have expressed concern over the potentially damaging effects of a prolonged stalemate. Hakim Mujahed, the deputy chairman of the high peace council, a government body responsible for negotiations with the Taliban, said all meaningful work had stopped in early spring, during the first round of the elections. Now he whiles away his hours crossing off the administrative chores from his to-do list.
“The election has become totally frustrating for the people of Afghanistan, including myself,” he said. “It is a defamation of democracy.”
The Taliban has refused to engage with the current government, as they rightly assume that the incoming administration will have different policies from its predecessor. Both the council and the Taliban, he said, are eager for new leadership.
“We are very frustrated by the audit process. It is a great impediment and obstacle to our work.”