Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission publicly confirmed the official results of the disputed 2014 election on Wednesday, more than a year and a half after the vote that elevated former finance minister Ashraf Ghani to the presidency. The 2014 election, touted as the first peaceful democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan, descended to the brink of chaos as Ghani and his rival, Abdullah Abdullah, traded accusations of fraud. According to the official numbers, Ghani won a runoff election in June 2014 with 55.27 percent of the vote to Abdullah’s 44.73 percent. It was at the request of both candidates, who now share power as part of a U.S.-brokered unity government, that the election commission delayed the release of the official numbers, said the commission’s chief, Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani.Full Article: Commission releases disputed 2014 Afghan election results | Reuters.
The Afghan election commission said Monday that it had set an Oct. 15 date for long-delayed parliamentary and district council elections. But the announcement immediately raised fears of new political deadlock after the country’s power-sharing government denounced the plan as illegitimate. In announcing the date, Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, the chief of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission, evidently did not coordinate with the government. And a spokesman for Abdullah Abdullah, the government’s chief executive, criticized the scheduling because the electoral reform he had demanded had not gone through. “The current election commission has no legitimacy because it was their weak management of the previous election that brought us on the brink of chaos,” said Javid Faisal, a spokesman for Mr. Abdullah. “Reforming the election process is a precondition to any election, and a part of the larger reform is the changing of current commission officials.”Full Article: Afghan Panel Sets Election Date, Drawing Government Criticism - The New York Times.
For about five short minutes in June, everyone sitting around my lunch table in Kabul thought the Afghan government had shut down Facebook. Attempts to load news feeds were met with an abrupt, uninformative “network error” message, so, naturally, two of us jumped on Twitter to break the news. The others, also expatriates, but less swept up in the politics of the moment, continued eating, though no doubt they were somewhat dismayed at the prospect of their window to life back home being shuttered. It was less than a week after millions of Afghans had commuted to polls around the country to vote in a runoff election, the second round in 2014’s historic, if protracted, presidential race. Heralded as the country’s first democratic transition of power, the election process had taken an ugly turn. And social media followed suit. When former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah accused election officials and then-President Hamid Karzai of coordinating ballot stuffing in favor of his opponent, former economic minister Ashraf Ghani, Facebook and Twitter feeds were filled with progressively violent and inciteful rhetoric from both sides. Unsurprisingly, the factions largely split along ethnic lines — Pashtuns versus Tajiks — the same antagonists of Afghanistan’s four-year civil war in the 1990s.Full Article: A Double-Edged Sword: Social Media and the Afghan Election.
Afghanistan has been held hostage by political stalemate for months. On September 21st it was finally broken, when the country’s two feuding presidential candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, signed a power-sharing agreement. Though the ceremony, at the Arg, the presidential palace in the capital Kabul, was brief and low-key, the deal will radically—and perhaps wisely—change the country’s political framework. Neither man spoke and neither looked quite at ease. But the agreement will at least allow the new government to get on with the massive task of winning the confidence of a country that has been waiting for the deadlock to end. The four-page document, signed in the presence of outgoing President Hamid Karzai, and later by witnesses James Cunningham, the American ambassador, and Jan Kubis, the United Nations’ senior Afghanistan representative (both of whom were banned from the palace ceremony by Mr Karzai), divests the president of his vast powers.Full Article: Afghanistan's disputed election: Divide and rule | The Economist.
Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank economist, has been officially declared the new president of Afghanistan, after three months of political deadlock was resolved through a new, untested power-sharing arrangement with his arch rival. Ghani signed the agreement with Abdullah Abdullah, his adversary in presidential elections in June that left the country suspended in acrimony, fraud allegations and political paralysis. Under the deal, Ghani will run the cabinet and be in charge of strategic functions, while Abdullah will be able to appoint a “chief executive” who will be in charge of daily duties. Neither man appeared overjoyed as they signed the deal. When the election results were finally declared, the ranking official did not use the words “winner” or “loser”, nor did he announce the final voting figures.Full Article: Afghanistan power-sharing deal ends months of political gridlock | World news | The Guardian.
Afghan presidential rivals Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah on Sunday signed a power sharing deal to form a National Unity Government. The signing ceremony took place at the presidential palace in Kabul with outgoing President Hamid Karzai and Afghan elders as well as religious leaders present on the occasion. The two candidates shook hands and hugged each other after singing the long-awaited political deal. Karzai then briefly addressed the gathering and congratulated both Ghani and Abdullah on reaching the power sharing arrangement.Full Article: Rival Afghan Presidential Candidates Sign Deal to Share Power.
Afghanistan’s election commission announced on Sunday it has completed the audit that will determine the country’s next president. The contested presidential election has seen both presidential hopefuls, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, accusing each other of industrial-scale fraud, fomenting revolt, and endorsing violence. As of Monday, the ballots have been sent to the electoral complaints commission, who will grant Ghani and Abdullah 24 hours to log any complaints they may have. The complaints commission will then have 48 hours to address their complaints and submit the final result to the electoral commission for review. The electoral commission is expected to announce the final results by the end of the week. If similar announcements in the past are any guide, however, this will likely be delayed. The first round of votes on 5 April was noticeable for its relative absence of violence, and the country underwent a brief spell of optimism. The second round of election on 14 June was a departure from this original feeling of euphoria, and was marred by claims and counter claims of fraud between the two candidates.Full Article: Afghan election commission completes audit that determines president | World news | theguardian.com.
The presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah once more brought Afghanistan’s troubled electoral process to the brink on Monday, insisting that he had won the disputed vote and vowing to reject any government formed on the basis of it. An audit of 100 percent of the ballots cast in the June runoff election is expected to conclude this week, and nearly all observers expect Mr. Abdullah’s opponent, Ashraf Ghani, to be declared the winner. Mr. Abdullah’s supporters have been suggesting that he form a parallel government, which Western diplomats have worried could lead to disorder or even civil war. But Mr. Abdullah made no mention of a parallel government in a speech to his top officials, running mates and supporters, or at a brief news conference afterward, and did not ask his supporters to take to the streets to protest the results.Full Article: Afghan Candidate Vows to Reject Disputed Vote - NYTimes.com.
“The best solution for the current situation is the announcement of final results. The international community has shown readiness to support the results,” Ghani said. Ghani was declared the winner in preliminary results from the June 14 run-off ballot with 56 percent of the vote, giving him a lead of some 1.2 million votes. But his rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, charged that massive fraud of more than two million votes had denied him victory, and on Monday he said he would reject the outcome if the audit did not throw out enough ballots to make him president. The United States brokered a deal between the feuding parties to form a unity government that would include the new position of chief executive, who would enjoy significant powers despite losing the election. The aim of the deal was to prevent the dispute from descending into street demonstrations and possible ethnic conflict.Full Article: Afghan election front-runner rejects equal share of power with rival | Reuters.
Afghanistan faces its most serious crisis in a decade. This time, however, it is not caused by an emboldened Taliban but by growing friction between the two contenders for president. Only a determined effort by the United States and other NATO allies can prevent an escalation into violence. Many Westerners and Afghans embraced this year’s presidential election as an opportunity to move on from President Hamid Karzai, whose relationship with Western leaders dramatically deteriorated in recent years. But the election results have been contentious. The first round of voting was in April. No candidate secured 50% of the vote, though former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah led with 45%. The two candidates with the largest shares, Mr. Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, went to a run-off on June 14. The preliminary results showed Mr. Ghani ahead with roughly 56% of the vote, yet allegations of fraud mounted.Full Article: Afghanistan Back to the Brink - WSJ.
Having spent several weeks auditing ballots in Afghanistan’s fraud-plagued presidential vote, election officials there are expected to declare a winner within days. If the two candidates vying for the post fail to reach a power-sharing deal beforehand, the announcement could easily kick off a wave of unrest that would all but guarantee a catastrophic wind-down to America’s longest war. The window of opportunity to strike a compromise is narrowing dangerously. Without a new government in place, the Obama administration may well pull back on plans to keep a military contingent in Afghanistan beyond 2014, and without that force, the international community will cease bankrolling the impoverished nation. Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister, not without reason, is fighting the outcome of an election in which his rival, former finance minister Ashraf Ghani, is widely expected to be declared the winner. Western officials say that the audit of millions of ballots cast on June 14 has made clear that the scope and sophistication of fraud was staggering even for Afghan standards.Full Article: In Afghanistan, Time for Compromise - NYTimes.com.
The campaign team of Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister running against Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai for the presidency of Afghanistan, has issued a 24-hour notice to the United Nations and international observers that if changes are not made to processes in the ongoing audit of all 8 million votes cast in the second round of the election, they will back out of the election process entirely. “We will give one day to the international community to review and assure that the vote auditing and the political negotiations are moving forward properly. … If our demands are not met and the auditing not conducted legitimately and the political talks without honesty, then we will withdraw from both processes,” said Abdullah spokesman Syed Fazel Sancharaki. nThe Monday afternoon warning came a week after the team of Reform and Partnership, as Abdullah’s campaign refers to itself, backed out of the audit claiming their concerns about widespread fraud in the June 14 runoff were ignored by the United Nations.Full Article: Abdullah threatens to back out of Afghanistan election - LA Times.
Nearly thirteen years since the United States and its allies undertook one of the largest efforts at nation building in recent history, prospects for Afghanistan’s future peace and prosperity are facing critical threats. The Taliban and affiliated insurgent groups continue to destabilize much of the countryside. Uncertainty as to prospects of a negotiated peace deters capital investment and propels the flight of the country’s best and brightest. Following the second round of presidential elections in June, the equitable and constitutional transfer of executive power from President Hamid Karzai to his successor is in a state of jeopardy. In May this year, President Barak Obama announced a near total drawdown of US troops in Afghanistan by the end of 2016. At the moment, the fate of the Afghan people is most uncertain. Yet as dispiriting as this state of affairs is, Afghanistan is not yet lost. While its insurgency is persistent, the Taliban lack the means and popular support to retake control of the state. Warlords-cum-politicians recognize that they have more to lose by taking guns to the hills than by brokering negotiated deals. Its increasingly educated and globally aware youth comprise nearly two-thirds of its population. And given its mineral resources and position as a geographic bridge for regional trade and energy transit, Afghanistan is not without economic opportunities.Full Article: Can Afghanistan Survive Its Presidential Election? - Analysis - Eurasia Review.
It seems everyone wants the Afghan presidential election to be over and done with. Except, maybe, for the two contenders. In the latest attempt to derail an audit of the votes, which was set in motion six weeks ago, Abdullah Abdullah (pictured above) declared on August 27th that he was leaving the process—less than a week before the next president is supposed to be inaugurated. Mr Abdullah, who claims his opponent, Ashraf Ghani, rigged more than 1m votes, has accused auditors of keeping fraudulent ballots in the tally. Faulting the United Nations for not taking his concerns seriously, he said the criteria for invalidating votes are not thorough enough to weed out all the fraud. Wednesday morning, August 27th, no observers from his team were to be found at the headquarters of the Independent Election Commission when the day’s audit began. Consequently, Mr Ghani also withdrew his observers.Full Article: Afghanistan's disputed election: It takes two | The Economist.
The full audit of the about 8 million votes cast in the second round of Afghanistan’s presidential election will continue “without the direct physical engagement” of the two candidates’ observers, the United Nations said Wednesday. The announcement came hours after Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister who led April’s first-round vote but reportedly was losing in the initial count from the second round, ordered his team to stay away from the audit. Abdullah’s camp charged in a statement that the review was “built in a one-sided manner” favoring his rival, Ashraf Ghani. Muslim Saadat, a spokesman for the Abdullah team, said there remained “a few points to find solutions to” in the audit process, but that talks between the Abdullah and Ghani camps were ongoing. Nicholas Haysom, deputy special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for Afghanistan, announced that the audit would go on without observers from both camps. Haysom said one of the concerns raised by the Abdullah team would be given “serious consideration.” Neither he nor Saadat would elaborate on the unresolved issues. So far, ballots in 72 boxes have invalidated and another 697 boxes have been sent for recount.Full Article: Afghanistan election audit will go on without candidates' observers - LA Times.
Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election was rocked by more turmoil on Wednesday as both candidates vying to succeed Hamed Karzai pulled their observers out of a ballot audit meant to determine the winner of a June runoff. First, Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, pulled his monitors from the audit to protest the process that his team claims is fraught with fraud. Then, the United Nations, which is helping supervise the U.S.-brokered audit, asked the other candidate, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, to also pull out his observers in the interest of fairness. The U.N. team said the audit then proceeded without both candidates’ teams. It was not immediately clear if the pullout meant the two candidates would reject the audit results — and thereby also the final result of the election. That could have dangerous repercussions in a country still struggling to overcome ethnic and religious divides and battling a resurgent Taliban insurgency.Full Article: Afghan presidential candidates pull out of audit - The Washington Post.
Threatening to derail a tenuous Afghan political deal again, a top aide to the presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah said Tuesday that the campaign would pull out of an internationally monitored vote audit unless changes to the process were made by Wednesday. The United Nations and the Afghan election commission said the audit, which was initiated under a deal brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry and salvaged this month only after another personal intervention by him, would continue with or without Mr. Abdullah’s observers. But after a month and a half of frenetic activity by the international community to conduct what the United Nations has described as the most exhaustive election review in its history, some 6,000 out of 23,000 ballot boxes still need to be audited, according to Afghan and international officials. The stalled audit and new brinkmanship by Mr. Abdullah cast grave doubt on plans to hold a presidential inauguration by Sept. 2. And the crisis now seems likely to bog down the NATO summit meeting set for Sept. 4 that was scheduled to discuss Afghanistan’s future.Full Article: Afghan Candidate Threatens to Quit the Presidential Race - NYTimes.com.
Afghanistan: U.S.-brokered accord to salvage Afghan presidential election faces new problems | The Washington Post
Afghanistan’s election crisis continued to deepen Tuesday as the campaign of second-place candidate Abdullah Abdullah warned that it will abandon a U.S.-brokered deal to end a political stalemate unless major changes are made in how millions of votes are being reexamined. Abdullah adviser Fazal Ahmad Manawi said the candidate has serious concerns that an ongoing audit of more than 8 million votes cast in a June runoff is not stringent enough to catch fraudulent ballots. He called the audit a “joke” and said new procedures must be implemented by Wednesday or Abdullah could walk away from the recount. “If by tomorrow morning our demands . . . are not accepted, our patience has ultimately run out,” said Manawi, who has been who was tasked by Abdullah with monitoring the recount. “We will consider this process a finished one, will not continue in it and not accept it, and the results will have no value to us.”Full Article: U.S.-brokered accord to salvage Afghan presidential election faces new problems - The Washington Post.
Afghanistan: Invalidating fraud votes: Afghan election dispute enters crucial phase | The Express Tribune
Afghanistan’s 10-week election crisis entered a risky new stage on Monday when officials started invalidating fraudulent votes in a process likely to bring to a head the bitter dispute between the presidential candidates. The country has been in paralysis since the June 14 election to choose the successor to President Hamid Karzai, who will step down as US-led NATO troops prepare to end their 13-year war against Taliban insurgents. Karzai has insisted that the delayed inauguration ceremony must be held on September 2, imposing a tough deadline that has raised tensions between supporters of poll rivals Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. The June vote was quickly mired in allegations of massive fraud, with Abdullah claiming that he had been denied victory after Ghani was declared ahead on preliminary results.Full Article: Invalidating fraud votes: Afghan election dispute enters crucial phase – The Express Tribune.
Scores of protesters have taken to the streets in the Afghan capital Kabul to call for the immediate release of the results of the disputed presidential runoff vote, Press TV reports. On Thursday, more than a hundred civil society activists chanted slogans and expressed their outrage over what they described as the violation of the Afghan constitution. The demonstrators also emphasized that the delay in announcing the results of the June vote is against the interests of Afghanistan. “Some elements do not think about our country and people, but rather think only about their own interests. It is nothing but a pre-planned political game against the nation,” said Mohammad Jawadi, a civil society activist.Full Article: PressTV - Afghans call for immediate presidential vote results.