Afghanistan: Run-off election or Horse-trading?

Abdullah AshrafWith just over 82 percent of the results of the votes announced by the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) last Thursday, no presidential candidate seems to be in a clear position to announce victory. According to IEC Dr Abdullah has secured 43.8 percent (2,564,284) votes and he is leading Dr Ashraf Ghani from 10.9 percent (636,131) votes.

Around 81-100 percent of the election results of 20 provinces have been counted and 20-39 percent election results of 13 provinces are yet to be announced including the 70 percent election results of the Ghazi province.  

Out of seven million ballots, 5,857,442 votes have been counted. 746 complaints ruled by Electoral Complaints Commission may likely affect closer to half a million votes. Dr Abdullah’s 80,000 votes from Herat City have been quarantined for suspected fraud and now nearly 17.5 percent of the votes are left to be announced which means no candidate seems likely win in the first round of the elections with simple majority votes — was predicted on the previous column on this newspaper on 5th of April 2014.

Many suggest that Dr Abdullah may likely bag around 45 percent of the votes, while his political rival Dr Ashraf Ghani will hopefully get about 35 percent of the total votes.

The present results will constitutionally push both candidates to get ready for the runoff election, may likely be held in late May or June, if coalition government formula doesn’t work.

Due to security concern many propose of a coalition government. And a strong lobby, in this respect is believed to be working to form a united government comprising all major stake holders. If however, coalition government formula didn’t work, then many believe that a runoff election would take place, which would help promote horse-trading in Afghanistan to win the maximum votes. The more money is spent the better results will come. Presidential candidates will likely get better offer. And Zalmay Rassoul who stood third position by attaining 11.13 percent (652,116) votes will get the most amazing offer.

Besides presidential candidates, all influential stake holders including chieftains, warlords, Sardars, Maliks and Khans will also get heavy bribe—sorry, I mean “attention”, which will further trickle down to pollute the common Afghan voters. Therefore an “elephant-trading” is expected to replace the horse-trading in runoff election.

Around seven million Afghans, who voted with a great sense of devotion and honesty on 5th of April 2014 to bring democratic change in their country, will systematically be pushed to unfair means which will undoubtedly set a bad trend in newly democratic country.

Keeping in view the past ruling culture of Afghanistan, if Dr Abdullah doesn’t like the idea of the coalition government or if he agrees to go for the runoff election then he must know the message on the wall. I’m sure he knows.

Dr Abdullah may think to win the majority votes in the runoff election but unfortunately he will not be able to win the hearts of typical ethnic ruling machinery to govern Afghanistan with the background of North. It needs more elections to bring change in Afghanistan, unfortunately not this election.

More importantly, the international and regional powers don’t have any favourite candidate in Afghan election because the policies of both candidates are same. Therefore international and regional players are not bothered who may get the power in Afghanistan. Thus coalition government seems to be the best option in Afghanistan in present circumstances. All major ethnic groups need to play part in the government to promote political stability and peace in Afghanistan. And coalition government will take Afghanistan on the path of peace and prosperity in the region.


The article was originally published on The Daily Outlook Afghanistan newspaper on 26th of April 2014.