The Independent Elections Commission (IEC) announced July 2 its decision to postpone the announcement of the election result, citing ongoing investigations of polling stations as the main reason for the delay. The decision is the latest development in a series of vote-rigging allegations that have riled voters from opposing political camps and caused international organizations to intervene.
The rift widens
In its editorial dated July 2, Hasht-e-Subh Daily welcomed the delay and wrote that announcing the preliminary result prior to the end of investigations would have hurt the election process.
“Currently, diplomatic efforts are under way to resolve the election crisis," the editor added. "The campaign teams of both presidential candidates and [the IEC] have not yet agreed upon a trilaterally accepted mechanism to distinguish clean votes from fraudulent ones.”
But Arman-e-Milli Daily blamed President Hamid Karzai for all election-related problems. Quoting Gul Agha Sherzai and Mahmoud Karzai, the daily wrote “The elections will have no result as long as Karzai is in the Presidential Palace.” The editor of this daily added that since Abdullah Abdullah's campaign team delegitimized the work of the IEC, the run-off presidential elections faced deadlock.
"The disgrace of Karzai's administration has gone beyond limits and almost all in the world are now aware of it," the paper continued. "Some of the countries with interests in Afghanistan do not want to clarify their stance against organized election fraud and are even thinking about simply ignoring it.”
Etla’at-e-Roz Daily wrote the rift between the two presidential campaign teams was now irreconcileable. The daily added that ties between Abdullah's Reform and Partnership team and the IEC remained severed, and announcing the preliminary result of the run-off presidential elections could have ffurther embittered both sides.
Meanwhile, Jamaya-e-Baz Daily predicted that a political pact involving the members of both political camps was unlikely and wrote a coalition government is not in Afghanistan's future. Forging such a shadow government would involve a back-room deal, which the Afghan public opposes, the daily added.
Afghanistan Daily wrote that all election-related problems could be resolved via legal channels, which is the preferred practice in other countries. But editors also noted that laws and legal institutions remained weak in Afghanistan.
The persistence of election-related problems in Afghanistan compelled the United States to get involved. In a June 1 phone call to Karzai, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged the Afghan president to use his influence to resolve the issue.
“Both stressed on the importance of abiding by legal processes of Afghanistan to evaluate and address concerns of the candidates, finalize the election process in the country and identify Afghan ways to bring both candidates to the reconciliation table,” according to a statement released by the Presidential Palace of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Younus Qanooni, the First Vice-President of Afghanistan, is attempting to bring both candidates to the negotiating table.
Nasrullah Bariali Arsalaee, a high-ranking staff member of Abdullah’s campaign team, participated in a news conference July 2, where he said their team is ready to accept the result of the elections even if fraudulent votes remain remain included in the count. Their team would also accept the result if Abdullah is defeated after the fraudulent votes are removed.
Bariali said that a dialogue between the two campaign teams will begin in two days. Ashraf Ghani's team Ahmadzai had not commented on the issue as of press time.
Meanwhile, political analysts said the election-related problems could send Afghanistan into a deeper crisis. Mati-ullah Abasin, a Kabul-based journalist, participated in a round table on Kabul News where he said that anyone who had some type of involvement in the elections is angling for a role in the next government. For these individuals, personal interests supersede national interests, he said. If they lose, they will likely resort to even more dangerous things.
But Faheem Naeemi, a spokesman for the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA) who also participated in the round table on Kabul News said that the best way to resolve the situation is to abide by the regulations of national and international institutions. According to him, the United Nations has been working to resolve elections related problems in Afghanistan and it will not support any one group. He said that the campaign teams should present ways out of the deadlock and should abide by the decisions.