The Deepening Election Crisis
The deadlock over the presidential elections is further deepening with Abdullah’s camp questioning legitimacy of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC). According to Abdullah’s team, the IEC has rejected the major demands the team had proposed for resolving the election stalemate, while the IEC officials maintain they have accepted all of Dr. Abdullah’s demands. Abdullah’s camp has warned the electoral bodies and President Hamid Karzai would be responsible for the consequence of the situation. The team has suggest further demonstrations and street protests against continuation of the vote counting process as the IEC is determined to proceed with the process as planned.
Now with the election stalemate, the most possible scenario for the upcoming weeks is mass protests against the electoral bodies and their conduct of the election. Given the sensitivity of the situation, provocation of violence by some certain elements, both in Abdullah’s team and outside the circle, is quite probable. Any violent incident during an uncertain period would have the potential to lead the country into a dark tunnel. Fortunately, no major party in the Afghan political spectrum is currently willing to seek benefit from violence and stability. However, unwanted and unplanned provocations during mass protests are quite possible. Therefore, all stakeholders, particularly Abdullah’s team and the President must heed to the warning signs and redouble efforts to explore a political solution for the crisis.
On the first stage, the rightful and legitimate demands of Abdullah’s camp should be listened and considered based on Afghanistan’s national interest and the laws. If the electoral bodies and the government are willing to make compromises and seek solution for the crisis, there are possible options for resolving the dispute. One is to hold fresh elections in some disputed provinces – as Abdullah’s team has demanded. The next would be to dump a portion of votes that are assumed to be fraudulent in some controversial provinces of the east. Anyway, what is clear is that the government and the electoral bodies must remain committed to making investigations over the allegations of industrial-scale fraud by government provincial officials and the electoral authorities.
Unfortunately, along Abdullah’s warning, the bad sign for the situation is that other key stakeholders including President Karzai, Ashraf Ghani’s team and the electoral bodies do not seem to be seriously committed to seeking resolution for the crisis. Ghani’s camp has fiercely defended their votes and the conduction of the electoral bodies, while the only thing that is being heard from president Karzai is that ‘everything if fine’. The intense situation needs more from President Karzai’s side, and he really needs to understand and recognize the seriousness of the situation.
If president Karzai fails to recognize the disturbing situation of the country, he may, in turn, fail to lead the country out of the crisis. President Karzai should redouble efforts for negotiations and political consensus among the major stakeholders. Unlike the previous 2009 elections, Afghanistan’s elections were exceptional in many ways. This time the people of Afghanistan deserve to see a transparent and fraud-free outcome with a legitimate government.