Thursday, 14 August 2014

Afghanistan’s presidential tussle: Come together

Nguồn tin:

WHEN America’s secretary of state, John Kerry (pictured, centre), introduced Afghanistan’s “next president” to a media gathering in Kabul, the capital, on August 8th, two men stepped forward. The awkward moment was defused when Abdullah Abdullah (left) ceded to his rival, Ashraf Ghani (right). Dr Abdullah has claimed that the run-off vote between the two presidential candidates in June, giving Mr Ghani a clear victory, was massively rigged. The disagreement threatened to split Afghanistan and even push it back into civil war.

Mr Kerry’s visit to Kabul was his second in less than a month to head off such a disastrous eventuality. He wanted to ensure that Mr Ghani and Dr Abdullah still adhered to an agreement he brokered on the first trip aimed at creating a government of national unity.

Dr Abdullah claimed that over 1m votes were fraudulently cast for Mr Ghani. So part of the deal was a thorough audit of the votes. To date, under a third of 23,000 ballot boxes have been audited. Even so, the audit is meant to be complete, and a successor to President Hamid Karzai inaugurated, by the end of August. That would enable the new president to sign a long-awaited security pact with America when he attends a NATO summit in Wales in September.

The brokered deal is meant to lead to a reformation of the way Afghan politics is played. Although the ostensible winner becomes president, the runner-up takes on a “chief executive” role. In two years’ time he becomes prime minister. It will, in theory, reinforce a more parliamentary form of government and break the president’s huge powers of patronage. Under Mr Karzai, corruption flourished.

The candidates say they are co-operating. They put on a friendly show for the cameras. But as Mr Kerry flew out, differences emerged. Each man is playing to his own constituency, a delicate task given that hardliners on both sides are prepared—and armed—for a fight. Mr Ghani says the appointment of a chief executive will not diminish the president’s power. Dr Abdullah claims winner and loser will nominate candidates for top posts.

Yet both know the deal must stick if confidence in the democratic process is to be restored. Millions of Afghans voted in good faith for a government that, once American combat forces are gone next year, will not have the crutch of an international military presence. Falling at this hurdle is not an option.

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