Quick Take - Afghanistan Presidential Election

The facts

In Afghanistan, the current chief of the executive, Abdullah Abdullah, main competitor of the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, in the presidential election held on September 28, claimed victory in a press conference, without waiting for the official results. In 2014, the same had claimed to hold the first position in the last presidential election, already against Mr. Ghani, which had forced the Americans to impose a two-headed governance leading to institutional paralysis. Five years later, this repeated refusal threatens to aggravate even more the quagmire of a country at war for eighteen years. Asked about the same situation experienced in 2014, when he compromised with Mr. Ghani to run the country, he assured that this time he would not "repeat this sacrifice".


The vote

While some of the electronically stored data has already been routed to the Afghanistan Independent Election Commission’s central server in Kabul (in some provinces, the communications networks have been cut by the Taliban), the delivery of paper bulletins is still pending.

The vote was marked by a participation that could fall below the 30%, or 2.1 million voters out of the 9.6 million registered. This strong abstention could be explained by the insecurity linked to the Taliban violence, which has increased since President Trump put a brutal end, at the beginning of September, of peace negotiations between the Americans and the insurgent movement, in Qatar.

These talks led by former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, actually weakened the legitimacy of Afghan institutions, and this election was an opportunity to help them regain political relevance. The IEC is now expected to announce the preliminary results on 19 October and the final ones on 7 November, after examination of the complaints.

International reactions

The international community feared a new confrontation between Mr. Abdullah and Mr. Ghani. A few days before election day, Mr. Abdullah had already cast suspicion on the ballot by denouncing, in advance, "large fraud". President Ghani had assured that "his country needs a president, not two" and if he won, he would no longer accept a government of national unity. The US embassy in Kabul encouraged everyone to "wait patiently for results, subject to verification" and Federica Mogherini, head of European diplomacy, added she "encouraged candidates to exercise their restraint, and await the preliminary and final results" of the commission. A wishful thinking.

Aurelien Raspiengeas and Jennifer Martin

Sophie Campbell