The Last-ditch Electoral Groupings
With the ongoing electoral campaigns and coalition-buildings, President Karzai’s brother Mahmood Karzai endorsed presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah in the second round of the elections. Karzai said that they have agreed on national issues and he backed Abdullah for his economic plans for Afghanistan. Mahmood Karzai’s endorsement of Abdullah is coming as the latest of a series of political coalition-making ahead of the upcoming presidential elections. In addition to Karzai, political figures such as Jamil Karzai, Gul Agha Shirzai, Zalmay Rassoul and other political figures have announced their support to Abdullah’s candidacy. This is while Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, another contender for Afghanistan’s presidency, also managed to obtain backing of some key figures such as Sibghatullah Mujaddadi, Ahmad Zia Massoud and Daud Sultanzoi.
ndorsement of Abdullah’s candidacy by some key Kandahari figures such as Zalmay Rassoul, Gul Agha Shirzai and Mahmood Karzai – who are from Durani tribe of Pashtoon – is viewed as a major victory for Abdullah’s team. Coalition-building is perhaps the most important factor determining the fate of the elections in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan’s previous elections, a number of prominent figures supported the incumbent president which eventually yielded result and let Karzai to be far ahead from his main contender Dr. Abdullah. In the first round of this year’s elections on April 5, the array of most powerful politicians including Mujahedin leaders and government officials joined different candidates. Still the coalition makings ahead of the runoff elections dominated the elections which led to Abdullah’s being in the lead in the preliminary results of the elections.
It has been a common belief that the outcome of the runoff elections will be determined by the ongoing efforts for building new coalitions with prominent losers of the first round of the elections and their supporters. In the first round of the elections, Zalmay Rassoul was in the lead in southern Kandahar province with political support from Mahmood Karzai. His base of support is mainly southern provinces that supported Karzai during the previous presidential elections. It is expected that the Kandahari figures gain some level of support for Abdullah from the southern provinces, though the behavior of the voters are largely shaped by ethnic politics.
Kandahari figures such as Mahmood Karzai, Zalmay Rassoul and Gul Agha Shirzai will to some extent garner votes from southern and eastern constituencies for Abdullah’s team. This considerably boosts his position against his rival in the southern provinces, where he has little influence. On the other hand, many perceive endorsement of Kandahari politicians to Abdullah’s candidacy as the President’s tacit endorsement of Abdullah. Karzai and his brothers are highly influential among Durrani Pashtoons and this interpretation will remarkably help Abdullah.
On the other hand, there are still some prominent politicians whose support to the candidates is crucial for the fate of the upcoming elections. Among them is Abdul Rassoul Sayyaf camp that received 7 percent of the votes and is considered as one of the most influential figures whose role will be crucially important in the upcoming elections. Most possibly, there will more political groupings within two next weeks. If Abdullah manages to obtain support of other politicians such as Sayyaf his team would further be reinforced.