According to Usman Sharifi, the Middle East Online source in Kabul, it appears the Taliban may be running for Afghan president soon. Yes, after 11 years of battling the Taliban in Afghanistan, they may soon assume the Presidency! President Karzai is serving his second term as leader of the war-torn country and he is constitutionally barred from running in the 2014 election. There are no clear candidate to succeed him has yet emerged.
So, who will be the future president? The Taliban could stand in Afghanistan's next presidential election in 2014, according to the war-torn country's polling experts. They spoke as a series of coordinated bombings killed 17 civilians. The vote, scheduled for April 5, 2014, is seen as crucial to stability after the withdrawal of NATO troops and Fazil Ahmad Manawi, the head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), insisted his body would act impartially. "We are even prepared to pave the ground for the armed opposition, be it the Taliban or Hezb-i-Islami, to participate in the election, either as voters or candidates," Manawi told a news conference. "There will be no discrimination," the IEC chief added, defending the body in response to a question about its impartiality.
Hezb-i-Islami is the faction of former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar which wages an insurgency along with the Taliban against Karzai's Western-backed government. The Taliban, whose hardline Islamist regime was overthrown in 2001 by a US-led invasion for harbouring Osama bin Laden, did not take part in the 2009 election. Instead it launched polling day attacks that killed more than 20 people.
The 2009 poll, in which Karzai was re-elected over former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, was marred by widespread allegations of fraud. It was characterized by lack of security, low voter turnout and widespread ballot stuffing, intimidation, and other electoral fraud. The vote, along with elections for 420 provincial council seats, took place on August 20, 2009, but remained unresolved during a lengthy period of vote counting and fraud investigation. Two months later, under heavy U.S. and ally pressure, a second round run-off vote between incumbent President Hamid Karzai and his main rival Abdullah Abdullah was announced for November 7, 2009. On November 1, however, Abdullah announced that he would no longer be participating in the run-off because his demands for changes in the electoral commission had not been met, and a "transparent election is not possible." A day later, on November 2, 2009, officials of the election commission cancelled the run-off and declared Hamid Karzai as President of Afghanistan for another 5 year term.
After studying these factors in past elections, I believe the Taliban could, indeed, assume political power via the ballot box, in addition to their penchant for instilling fear in the populace. The credibility of the 2014 vote will be the key to avoiding an escalation in violence after the NATO withdrawal. Donor nations at a conference in Tokyo in July pledged $16 billion for Afghanistan to prevent the country from sliding back into turmoil when foreign combat troops depart, with several pre-conditions including presidential elections in 2014.
Under the Afghan system, voters elect the president as an individual rather than as a representative of a party, and candidates must submit their nominations by October 6, 2013. The IEC will then rule on their admissibility and publish a final list of candidates on November 16. Initial results of the ballot will be announced on April 24, 2014, and final results on May 14, with May 28 set aside for any potential run-off vote. Provincial council elections will be held at the same time as the main poll.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association For Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes about the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). A portion of Ad revenues generated on this site is donated to the AFIO. His ideas are his own and do not represent those of any organization he's a member of. We will publish your ideas and comments at no charge...for the good of the order! Contact us on the Secure Contact Form