A cheerless victory for Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and bitterful win for Dr. Abdullah Abdullah!
On October 21st, 2014, the Afghan prolonged disagreement over the doubtful June runoff election result broke when candidates Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai signed the National Unity Government Agreement. Few hours later, the Afghan Independent Election Commission named Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as a new president. Under the new agreement, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah will be positioned as a Chief Executive Officer by a presidential decree, with powers similar to those of prime Ministers for the next two years. After two years, the president will call for a Loya Jirga (grand assembly) to propose amendment to the constitution and create the post of executive prime minister. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s deputies, Mohammad Mohaqiq and Mohammad Khan, become as members of the cabinet and the National Security Council.
In the short term, the outcome of power-sharing deal is apparent. The deal brought a closure to the months of uncertainty, which have damaged the country’s economy and security for six months. The deal also helped reducing political tensions between the candidates and their supporters. As mentioned in the agreement, the new government will be formed by the idea of “national unity” with the distribution of power between the president and the runner-up CEO, and the inclusiveness of both candidates with win-win result to form a new government with comprehensive reform programs. In the long term, however, there are some deficiencies in the agreement that could possibly affect the process of structuring future unity government.
First of all, both candidates have agreed to cooperatively decide about political consensus, reform, peace, security, economic growth and the delivery of services. This is, I think, a very ideal terms that they have used in the agreement. In reality, however, they are very far from acting cooperatively. As an example, the current four page agreement took more than two months to be agreed by both parties. So how could they cooperate with each other’s when the questions of reform agendas are raised in the future. With regards to new reforms or any other important matters, it might take even longer time for them to come up with an agreement, or may be not at all. For example, with regards to security or Taliban deal, Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is thinking closely to that of Karzai and he may probably release most or all of the Taliban’s prisoners from the Bagram or Pule Charkhi prisons. While for Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Taliban are a terrorist group who killed his Jamiyati’s top leaders Burhanuddin Rabbani and General Daud Daud. Therefore, he may take hardline against the Taliban. Thus, they are very different in the way they think and the way they do.
Second, the relationships between the President and the CEO have not been fully described by this agreement. It means that, the two candidates have to continue their discussions in the coming months or possibly years until they come up with a negotiation to draft a paper and fully describe their relationships. Additionally, by positioning the CEO below to that of the president’s deputies, the hierarchy of the future government becomes too confusing in term of reporting and policy implementations. It is not clear whom the cabinet members have to report to or take order from.
Third, the CEO will carry out the “administrative” and “executive” affairs of the government and he would be responsible to implement and monitor policies and financial affairs of the country. So far, as described by the media, the CEO is number two after the president in the governmental hierarchy. If this is correct, what would be the role of the First Vice President and the Second Vice President in the Dr. Ashraf Ghani’s Administration? Can General Dustum or Dr. Danish, as vice president, ask a cabinet member for the implementation of a policy or the progress of a program? If the answer yes, how many report a minister have to prepare? Probably many reports, a minister has to report to the president and two vice presidents and the CEO with his two deputies. If the answer is no, how a CEO could come up with a power to implement a policy without having an authority to ask for the progress?
Fourth, the CEO is authorised to nominate the appointment of the senior officials. Together with the CEO, the president will agree upon specific “merit-based mechanism” to approve or disapprove appointments of the nominees. As of now, no one has defined “merit-based mechanism” and neither party has given any further information.
Despite all, the power-sharing deal, however, is a win for the USA and the NATO countries. The US presence in Afghanistan is depending on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA). Both candidates, Dr. Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, promised to sign the BSA once assuming office. Bilateral Security Agreement allows the US and NATO forces to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014. No doubt, disagreement between the candidates delayed the signing of this document and further complicated the US and NATO planning for the post-2014. Despite the availability of the draft, Karzai had refused to sign the US-Afghanistan BSA.
The Afghan election began with the registration of candidates on September 16th, 2013 and the first round of voting took place on April 5th, 2014. After June 14th runoff election, the final result announced after twelve months on September 21st, 2014. The election commission named Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as new president without announcing the detail of the votes. Perhaps, a pressure from Dr. Abdullah Abdullah or the UN resulted to keep the details of vote secret for the coming weeks or months. However, unofficial figure released by the media shows that, Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai has won 55.27% of the total votes.
Since October 21st, only Dr. Ghani has appeared in a press conference to address the nation for his victory. Neither candidates spoke at the ceremony when they signed the deal.
The inauguration ceremony supposed to take place on September 29th, 2014.