Address the Legitimate Demands of Protestors
With the electoral bodies failing to address complaints regarding concerted vote rigging, the candidates seem to be choosing other options in the dispute. On Friday, thousands of supporters of Abdullah Abdullah took to streets in downtown Kabul and demanded cleansing the people’s votes. Abdullah is boycotting the vote counting, while the electoral bodies are preparing for announcement of the preliminary results of the the elections. The street protests came as a few days ago Ashraf Ghani, finally broke his silence over the recent disputes. Ashraf Ghani defended the votes he has garnered saying that his votes were clean and he will defend them. He used harsh language after his week-long silence criticizing Dr. Abdullah for refusing the vote counting, warning that no one should promote violence and everyone should wait for the electoral bodies to decide.
Ashraf Ghani camp and the electoral bodies are now moving to push the election process forward and aim to announce the preliminary results of the elections about a week later. The move to get the election process on track without waiting for resolution of the dispute is coming at a time when the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan is trying to mediate for resolving the deadlock. Abdullah’s team is demanding explanation from the electoral bodes the real level of election turnout and how Ghani has been having unusual lead over him in some specific provinces which was suggesting there had happened vote rigging and extensive stuffing of ballot boxes. Zia-ul Haq Amrkhil’s resignation paved the way for beginning of serious talks for breaking the deadlock. Seemingly, now both teams are engaged in talks with the United Nations and the government.
However, now it seems that the electoral bodies and the Ghani camp is take pre-emptive moves for accelerating their winning which is far from being considered as fully legitimate. The only way now for resolving the election crisis is to make a political consensus with direct engagement of all stakeholders including the two campaigns, the UN and President Karzai’s government. Making tactician moves by the candidates while the issue is yet to be resolved will not be constructive as it will spur the rival campaign to take actions which might be harmful for the process. For instance, if Abdullah’s campaign moves on to street protests as a show of strength to force the electoral bodies and the government to deal with election rigging, it will further deteriorate the election stalemate and even may instigate uncontrolled violence. Abdullah’s demand the rigging must be probed transparently is a legitimate demand and all parties have no option except heeding the call.
Therefore, the electoral bodies must avoid provocative moves and wait for the mediation efforts to yield a settlement for the crisis. The Afghan government failed to guarantee a transparent and fraud-free election. Now, the best thing it can do for settling the dispute is to help the UN mediation until fraudulent votes are discarded and an acceptable deal is reached.