Thursday, 10 July 2014

Afghanistan’s presidential election: Stuffed

Nguồn tin:

Abdullah says he was diddled again

AFTER all the foreign blood and money spent on trying to turn a poor, wrecked country into a unified state and a functioning democracy, much has been riding on the drawn-out presidential election. Yet this week the prospect loomed of Afghanistan unravelling, as the apparent runner-up in the election, Abdullah Abdullah, cried foul over the preliminary results of a June run-off released on July 7th.

Dr Abdullah says that the victory of Ashraf Ghani, a technocrat who has the support of the outgoing president, Hamid Karzai, is the result of ballot-stuffing. His spokesman decried it as a “coup”. Dr Abdullah threatened to declare a parallel government. As The Economist went to press, Dr Abdullah, a former foreign minister who was the victim of electoral fraud in 2009, had not exercised that option, which would tip the country into chaos. But concern in America is palpable. Its president, Barack Obama, telephoned Dr Abdullah and urged him against any rash declaration. Its secretary of state, John Kerry, is hurrying to Kabul, the capital.

The preliminary results of the second-round, run-off vote give 56% to Mr Ghani and 44% to Dr Abdullah. Yet for weeks Dr Abdullah has been accusing Mr Ghani of large-scale fraud, in cahoots with the Independent (though chiefly in name only) Election Commission. In the first round in early April, which several presidential candidates contested, Mr Ghani got 31.6% of the vote versus Dr Abdullah’s 45%—five percentage points short of outright victory.

That Mr Ghani could overtake Dr Abdullah in the second round is plausible, as supporters of defeated candidates threw their weight behind him. Mr Ghani, a Pushtun, has the clear support of Pushtuns, who reside mainly in the south and east and who are Afghanistan’s biggest ethnic group. What is suspicious, however, is that far more Afghans appear to have voted in the second round than in the first—8.1m versus 6.6m. In one south-eastern province Mr Ghani’s vote leapt tenfold. He attributes success to better campaigning in his strongholds—and persuading Pushtun leaders to let women vote.

Though Dr Abdullah is of mixed Tajik and Pushtun descent, many Tajiks, who are numerous in the north and west of the country, view him as one of their own. His chief backer is his vice-presidential candidate. Atta Mohammad Noor, a former warlord, is the immensely wealthy satrap of Balkh province in the north. He has not only money but arms and has been calling loudest on Dr Abdullah to set up his own government. He is motivated in part by a desire to keep Mr Ghani’s vice-presidential nominee, Abdul Rashid Dostum, another (and even more thuggish) northern former warlord, from accruing more power. Yet for Dr Abdullah to make a move would split the country along both ethnic and geographical lines.

In the end, the threats from his camp may serve mainly to gain Dr Abdullah more influence in a Ghani administration. Both the election commission and Mr Ghani have agreed to an audit of the voting. The question is how far it should go. Meanwhile, Mr Kerry is likely to make it very clear to Dr Abdullah that Americans would view any early move by him as an illegal power-grab. Should the West withhold promised aid as NATO troops withdraw by the end of the year, the country would not have enough money to buy the Afghan army’s shoe laces, let alone fight the Taliban and other insurgents. Dr Abdullah surely knows that. Whether he can march his maddened supporters down the hill again is another matter.

Đăng ký: Hoc tieng anh



Post a Comment


Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by VN Bloggers - Blogger Themes