Afghanistan Braces for Its Next Political Crisis

    Ahmad Murid Partaw

    Politics, Middle East

    Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani arrives at the PGE National Stadium, the venue of the NATO Summit, in Warsaw, Poland

    The National Unity Government should implement appropriate electoral reforms that can ensure free, fair and transparent elections in 2019.

    The continuing political crisis following a serious of failed negotiations between Ashraf Ghani and Atta Muhammad Noor does not bode well for stability and national unity of Afghanistan. It could also endanger the hard-gained achievements of the last decade and a half. The protracted political tension between Kabul and Balkh that has undermined Ashraf Ghani’s administration is not a new development. In fact, since the establishment of the National Unity Government (NUG) in 2014, the Afghan political atmosphere has been uneasy between its leaders. The situation has continued to impede governance and led to the rise of insecurity across the country. It is due to the fact that NUG agreement between Ghani and Abdullah did not materialize since early days of the unity government due to disputes on sharing power and delegating of authorities. After becoming president, Ashraf Ghani reneged on those promises by sidelining his political rival and centralizing power at the presidential palace. As a result, the Chief Executive Office, led by Abdullah as shareholder of the National Unity Government, lost his authority.

    If NUG agreement which promised an equal sharing of power between Abdullah and Ghani had been implemented, perhaps Afghanistan would have been in a better security and political condition now. It is because the NUG agreement had outlined some key and important issues that could have led the state toward political stability. For instance, it was agreed to hold a constitutional Loya Jirga after two years by turning the CEO into a prime minister position. The agreement had also emphasized on electoral reforms and devolution of power among provinces. This would have equally distributed the political power at the national and provincial levels, which has remained a contentious issue among Afghan political elites since the collapse of Taliban in 2001. Additionally, NUG agreement would have allowed provincial governments to exert more power; since centralization has proved a failure during the last fifteen years, especially in a multi-ethnic society such as Afghanistan.

    When the unity government was being negotiated by the United States, the Afghan people were hopeful that the new government would uplift the economy and improve security. But after three and a half years, the country is appallingly insecure, politically fragmented and economically stagnant.

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