The Evolving Election Impasse
In a crucial week for Afghanistan when Afghans are awaiting presidential election results, the two candidates are pushing the process further into deadlock. It seems that as the vote audit inches towards the final stages, the two sides tend to take extreme positions over the process. Abdullah’s camp announced it would withdraw from the vote audit and political talks on election altogether if their legitimate concerns are not taken into account. 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.
On the other hand, NATO leaders are set to gather in Wales. The summit is going to decide on how NATO alliance can continue cooperation with Afghanistan after 2014. Afghanistan failed to send new elected leader at the summit while NATO leaders expected to see a new Afghan president there. The meeting will be crucial for the ongoing security situation and the West’s future security cooperation with Afghanistan. The summit would ponder on NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan as the December deadline for the troop pullout is approaching. American leaders have suggested that the election in Afghanistan should be concluded and the next Afghan president has to participate in the summit. The summit is coming at a time when Afghanistan is struggling with two major developments in the country: election deadlock and deteriorating security.
The election deadlock and deteriorating security resonates a difficult future for Afghanistan. Many believe that the Taliban and other warlords will become more influential as the United States and NATO withdraws from Afghanistan. Given that there may a prolonged war ahead, some parts of Afghanistan may even fall to instability and chaos if the governments of United States and Afghanistan fail to reach a security deal that would allow presence of a residual force of the US in post-2014 Afghanistan.
Last week, representatives of both candidates were withdrawn from the vote audit, despite that UN-supervised process of vote audit continued without the two teams’ observers and agents. The ongoing vote audit is the most comprehensive audit of election votes undertaken by the United Nations. It is set to the produce a decided result and the winner of the presidential race until next two weeks. The fact that the two election candidates does not fiercely object to the ongoing vote audit process is sign of their tacit agreement with the process even that their representatives are not present at the site.
Both the election candidates are virtually putting Afghanistan’s security and political stability at a great risk by playing games and not cooperating in the vote audit process for resolving the outcome of the election so that the winner would be decided. At the difficult time when the unity government deal is close to collapse, all sides need to cooperate over the process to restore the credibility of the process of the election vote audit.