The Candidates Must Accept Election Results
Only days into the upcoming elections, a high ranking UN official urged Afghan presidential candidates to be prepared for accepting the election results. As the election date is getting closer, concerns are widespread about behaviors of the election candidates after the election outcome is announced. One of the key characteristics of the ongoing election is that it is highly contested and each of the frontrunners is highly confident that he will be the winner of the election. Even before the election, the candidates trade accusations and warn that there will be bad days ahead if there is a fraudulent election. True, the election must be transparent and the outcome should fair and acceptable to all.
But the question hovering in everyone’s mind is that are the losers of the election prepared to accept the outcome of the election, whatever it is. So far, Afghans have been alien to the culture of welcoming the outcome of elections by a loser candidate. And perhaps, this might be the first time that Afghans are going to test it. In retrospect, we see a bloody history in which every ruler came to power through bloodletting and violence. Another question is that in case there is a fraudulent election, will the candidates be willing to avoid creating a potential political crisis in the country. This is exactly what frightens most.
It is almost certain that there will be some levels of fraud during the next week election. Given the 2009 election, that was extensively rigged and almost created a dangerous political crisis, it is unrealistic to believe that there will be a fraud-free election and the outcome will be fully transparent and acceptable. Many believe that again there might be widespread rigging and the election will be marred through stuffing the ballots. Through there are a lot to be optimistic about the legitimacy of the election, but the fact is that it could be such a derailment in the election process. If such a scenario occurs, there is high probability for the candidates to refuse the outcome of the elections.
Even if there is no rigging in the election, the possibility will exist that the candidates may refuse to recognize the outcome of the elections. In case this happens, there will be political wrangling and post-election confusion would potentially endanger the political stability of the country. There must be extensive pressures from the public and the international community as well as the government and the political spectrum to convince the candidates to accept the election results.
The surest way to safeguard the election is to have a sound and transparent process that convinces every candidate and other stakeholders of the process. For this, there is need for political will from the government and president Karzai in particular. The President needs to leave the right legacy behind by leading a fair and transparent election. There is a common belief among a large portion of the people that whatever Karzai plays in the game it will be the result. So, Karzai needs to play it right and avoid making an irreparable mistake.