Initial results of the Afghanistan presidential elections held in September this year were finally announced on Sunday, after three months of delay. The Independent Election Commission (IEC) declared current President Ashraf Ghani the victor by a slim margin in the polls, however, the matter does not look to be resolved just yet. The President’s greatest opponent and Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah has declared the result released by the IEC as false and declared himself the winner based on ‘clean votes’. Another leading candidate, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has also joined the chorus of voices against the result.
The low voter turnout, with the added issue of stolen biometric machines that led to certain areas being open to electoral rigging, is naturally a cause for concern for the candidates that did not win out against President Ashraf Ghani. The next few days will likely reveal what the next course of action will be, but it is hoped that the fragile control of the Afghan government over the state is not invalidated as a result of the IEC’s announcement of President Ghani’s victory.
Afghanistan is currently at a very sensitive place in its efforts to end the never-ending war taking place within its borders. Political leaders must recognise that establishing peace in the country trumps all other concerns or power-sharing agreements. On the state’s part, the IEC must investigate claims of rigging and order recounts wherever votes are considered contentious. It must not be partial to the sitting President in this matter.
One can only hope that our neighbouring country moves towards more transparency in its democratic process, to ensure such accusations of foul play in the electoral process are not brought up repeatedly in the future. But for this to happen, the government also needs to be able to assert its authority and control over all Afghan territory, including the areas still controlled by the Afghan Taliban. The only way to that is to end the war. Given that the matter is out of the hands of the Afghan government, it is hoped that the US government sees sense and looks to find a conclusion to this decades-long conflict.