Monday, December 3, 2012


Note: Please take POLL: "Will Taliban Win 2014 Afghan Presidential Election?" in upper right-hand corner.

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. 

Learn more

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.

Learn more
At least 17 civilians, most women and children, were killed in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday in roadside bombings which officials blamed on "the enemies of Afghanistan" -- the term they use for the Taliban. In the deadliest incident, seven women and three children died when a blast tore through the vehicle in which they were travelling in Musa Qala district of Helmand province. Also on Wednesday, a Taliban attack on a checkpoint in eastern Kunar province left four police dead, while another five officers were killed in an insurgent raid on a post in Zabul province, in the south.

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. 

Learn more
Interestingly, the election resulted in former warlords and their followers gaining the majority of seats in both the lower house and the provincial council (which elects the members of the upper house). Women won 28 % of the seats in the lower house, six more than the 25 % guaranteed in the 2004 Constitution. Turnout was estimated at about 50%, substantially lower than at the presidential election in October 2004. This is blamed on the lack of identifiable party lists as a result of Afghanistan's new electoral law, which left voters in many cases unclear on who they were voting for. Turnout was highest in the minority Turkmen, Uzbek and the majority Tajik populated provinces in the north - generally over 60% - and lowest (below 30%) in some of the Pashtun southeastern areas where the Taliban insurgency is strongest. Turnout was also surprisingly low (34%) in the capital, Kabul.

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.

Learn more
The International Crisis Group think-tank warned in October that the Kabul government could fall apart after NATO troops withdraw, particularly if the presidential elections are affected by fraud. Security officials said they were confident they would learn lessons from 2009 as they seek to prevent violence in the run-up to the next election, only the third since the fall of the Taliban. "Afghan security institutions will start working to design a comprehensive plan for security during the election," said defence ministry chief of staff Shir Mohammad Karimi.

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

No comments: