A man in Kabul inspects an election poster of now-President Ashraf Ghani before last year's run-off. An escalation of violence has since dampened public support of the new government..
It took months for a new power-sharing Unity Government to be agreed by President Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah, but the new administration wasted no time in getting down to business, launching a spate of decrees and policies in its first days after inauguration.
BSA and NATO treaties signed
President Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah signed the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the USA, as well as a separate security agreement with NATO. Both treaties ensure a continued presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan beyond this year.
New Kabul Bank investigation
One of the government's more surprising moves was to reopen an investigation into corruption at the Kabul Bank, the notoriously nepotist financial institution which closed down amidst a whirlwind of embezzlement charges in 2011. Kabul Bank was one of the first and biggest private banks in Afghanistan, but collapsed almost three years ago due to mismanagement. More than 900 million US dollars in deposits disappeared and are believed to have been embezzled by senior management and major shareholders. The Attorney General released a list of charges against 19 individuals who are accused of corruption at the bank. Ghani ordered that all suspects should be apprehended within 15 days.
On Tuesday, October 7, Chief of Kabul Police General Muhammad Zahir announced that two suspects in the Kabul Bank case had been arrested. Observers however say Ghani's administration will struggle to indict the major suspects: Mahmood Karzai, brother to the former president, and Haseen Fahim, brother to the late influential politician Marshal Fahim. The Supreme Court has 45 days to reach its conclusions.
Ghani reopened the investigation into Kabul Bank, where more than 900 million US dollars is said to have disappeared.
The Unity Government showed that it was serious however in tackling corruption by passing a further decree that ensures stronger penalities for officials who accept money to hire and dismiss personnel at the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoFA). Widescale reform was also announced for the judiciary. President Ghani ordered the Chief Justice to evaluate all Afghan judicial institutions within a month and expedite the backlog of cases clogging courts across the country.
Ahmad Zia Massoud given new role
The announcement was welcomed by local media, although the Supreme Court later undermined the move stating that Ghani had been provided with "inaccurate" information. Meanwhile, Ahmad Zia Massoud, a close ally of Ghani's, was given a new role tackling corruption and the promotion of good governance, a move widely seen as a step to appease Massoud, who had been in line for the Chief Executive Officer role now held by Abdullah Abdullah.
"Acting" ministers please!
More new policies were to follow. President Ghani announced that all ministers, governors and heads of independent organisations should serve as "active" officials until new positions are appointed by the administration.
Corrupt to investigate corrupt?
Local analysts believe Ghani's two-thronged aproach to tackle rampant corruption in the administration could backfire and question the vailidy of the methods. “President Ashraf Ghani, in his inauguration speech said that the judiciary is involved in corruption, but several days after these remarks he issued a decree requesting the judiciary to investigate the Kabul Bank case. This by itself shows that the efforts of this government in fighting corruption will go nowhere," said Akbar Rustami, a journalist who specialises in anti-corruption reports.