The presidential elections in Afghanistan constitute the first time in the country’s history where power will be transferred democratically, but that’s not to say it’s without its own troubles. Voting began April 5, 2014, a second round was held on June 14, and the final results are expected July 22.
The two main candidates were former-finance minister Ashraf Ghani and former-foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah. The preliminary results show a win on Ghani’s part, but Abdullah believes that the election had votes rigged in favor of Mr. Ghani. Abdullah claimed he would declare himself president if this issue is not further looked into. Currently, both candidates have claimed victory.
One main concern for fair voting is that although there are only 12 million eligible voters, about 20 million registered voting cards went into circulation during the elections. The United Nations had created a plan to audit about 43 percent of the votes cast, but Mr. Abdullah did not find the plan acceptable, and wished for about half of all votes to be audited instead. The Abdullah campaign also wants foreign officials to conduct the audits, or for current president Hamid Karzai to replace the head of the Election Complaints Commission, who is seen as pro-Ghani.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took a trip to Afghanistan to act as a mediator between the candidates. Although the United States has been looking forward to President Karzai being out of office, the best way to mediate the issue is working with him.
A protester had stated: “We want the international community to take action, and we want real democracy.”
A few incentives for the Abdullah campaign to stay in check is that the United States government warned that billions of aid dollars are at stake, and German officials warned that they would cut off aid as well if Abdullah were to stage a breakaway government.
What will be affected by the winner? Once a winner is decided, the new President will have to make a security agreement with the United States, dealing with U.S. troops on the ground and their departure and the training of Afghan security forces. The newly elected leader will also help decide on other issues, such as negotiating with the Taliban, fighting poverty, halting corruption and stopping the drugs trade and the violence it entails.
The transfer is expected to happen in August. Until then, the state remains in limbo as the government and international world work toward making it a peaceful and democratic transition.
– Courtney Prentice
Sources: The New York Times 1, BBC, The New York Times 2