Afghan presidential polls again mired in a controversy     

Incumbent president Ashraf Ghani and leading challenger Abdullah Abdullah both declare victory in much-delayed poll results

Ashraf Ghani
Ashraf Ghani
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NHS Bureau

Ashraf Ghani has been officially declared the winner of Afghanistan’s presidential elections, nearly five months after the poll took place on September 28 of last year.

The final result was announced by the Afghan Independent Election Commission Chairperson Hawa Alam Nuristani on Tuesday.

Ghani secured 50.64% of total eligible votes, according to Nuristani. Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive of Afghanistan, came second with 39.51% of the votes.

The results were delayed because of widespread allegations of fraud, which meant that hundreds of thousands of votes had to undergo recounts and an auditing process.

Just hours after the announcement, Ghani’s leading challenger, Abdullah Abdullah — who accuses Afghanistan’s election commission of favoring the incumbent — also declared himself the winner and said that he would form a government of his own.

Abdullah and several other candidates have disputed roughly 300,000 votes from a low turnout of about 1.8 million.

As per Afghan election’s standard operating procedure, the President of Afghanistan is elected using the two-round system; if no candidate receives 50+1 of the votes in the first round, a second round will be held featuring the top two candidates.

Independent Election Commission (IEC) delayed preliminary results of Presidential elections, which was supposed to be announced on October 19, 2019.

Though, the turnout was less as compared to previous elections, due to inefficient security, Afghan government and international community praised the people for their participation in the presidential election to decide future of the country.

It is almost impossible for Afghanistan to hold free, fair and transparent election, because those who are in power will always influence the outcome of the results, political observers feel.

This time also, there is news that different presidential electoral teams are blaming rival team for influencing the result, especially President Ghani who has the final saying on security forces and other government organs.

Secondly, Afghanistan has never witnessed transparent and fair elections and International community and political parties kept mum in previous elections because they knew that it needs time for democracy to be nurtured which, unfortunately, had inverse impact on overall situation in Afghanistan.

According to analysts and observers, President Ghani is not willing to leave office at any cost and will do, whatever, it needs to remain in office. A majority of Afghans are of the view that 2014 presidential election was one of the worst elections ever held in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential election led to a peaceful transfer of power to a new president, Ashraf Ghani, but not through a democratic process. Intense, internationally mediated bargaining resulted in the formation of a national unity government, including a new chief executive officer position for the runner-up and the “equitable” distribution of ministerial appointments between the CEO Abdullah Abdullah and Ghani.

Moreover, despite a complete audit of second round votes, conducted at the request of both parties, the final election results were not officially announced. The post voting process and outcome left many bewildered.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah issued a decree barring all election commission workers from leaving the country. According to Abdullah’s campaign team, the order was issued after reports of election commission workers trying to flee the country, with what they claim was assistance from the presidential palace.

Despite declaring the formation of an “inclusive government”, Abdullah’s decree came from the Office of the Chief Executive, the post he was given as part of an agreement reached with Ghani.

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