Electoral Dispute: Stalemate or Breakthrough?
After the deadline set by Abdullah’s team for withdrawing from the vote audit process and political talks over formation of new government past, there were mixed reports over what kind of progress was made in talks for overcoming the recent differences between the two camps. A spokesman for Dr. Abdullah’s camp said Ashraf Ghani’s team has proposed a new initiative that recommends more powers for the chief executive in the future unity government. The spokesman suggested the new powers considered in the proposal were chairmanship of the cabinet by chief executive and allocation of key security agencies between the two candidates. However, sources related to Ghani’s camp said there was no such agreement as it would be in violation of the constitution.
Other sources felt there was little progress in the talks between the two sides. The presidential election process is once again teetering on the verge of collapse since Abdullah’s team has abandoned participation in the vote audit and political talks on formation of unity government. The recent setback had rekindled fears of political instability and chaos across the country as powerful backers of Abdullah hinted they intended to stage mass protests. However, there have been intensive negotiations going on between the two election candidates over the past two days and there is news of a possible breakthrough between the two sides. The Deputy US Secretary of State has remained in Kabul to attempt to mediate between the candidates in an effort to save the election process.
In a crucial week for Afghanistan, while the nation is awaiting presidential election results, the two candidates must avoid pushing the process further into deadlock and take into account the critical situation of the country. As the vote audit inches towards the final stages with their differences remaining unresolved, the two sides and their backers still have the tendency to take extreme positions over the process. Abdullah’s threat to withdraw from the vote audit and political talks on election is coming at a critical time when the public is exhausted with the elections. If any of the parties fails to take constructive approach towards the vote audit process, the fate of the election would be doomed to further setbacks.
Given the ongoing disputes, it is still unlikely the two sides will agree very soon on the formation of a new government, and the powers and authorities of the chief executive. There could be further delays before the new president is seated as the electoral and political dispute between the two candidates might continue for an unknown period of time. Some powerful supporters of Abdullah have threatened mass street protests and even seizure of government buildings in the provinces. Both the candidates need to explore solutions over the deadlock as it is not the time to continue political divisions and disagreements that can potentially harm the future of the country.