Showing posts with label elections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label elections. Show all posts

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Governance and Politics in Afghanistan

Corruption in Afghanistan. Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Afghanistan as the 4th most corrupt country in the world, trailing only Syria, South Sudan, and Somalia. See "Afghanistan Ranked 4th Most Corrupt Country For this Year", Tolo News, February 22, 2018.

2nd Provincial Governor Refused to Leave. President Ghani's office approved and announced the appointment of new heads for five provinces - including Samangan in the north. Samangan is just south of Balkh province. The current governor, Abdul Karim Khedam, refused to leave his post - becoming the second governor to resist removal. See "Another Provincial Governor Defies Dismissal Orders from Afghan President", Voice of America, February 18, 2018. But . . . eventually he stepped aside. (Khaama Press, Feb 20, 2018).

Dostum Speaks from "Abroad". First Vice President Dostum is still in Turkey (going on six months). He recently weighed in on current events in Afghanistan. "Dostum Makes Suggestions To Govt Despite Being in Exile", Tolo News, February 22, 2018.

E-Tazkera Crisis. Afghanistan is dividing along ethnic and political lines over the issuing of an electronic identity card. The main debate centers on ethnicity. Members of the Tajic, Hazara, Uzbec and other ethnic groups are opposing the use of the world "Afghan" on the ID card. They contend that "Afghan" denotes "Pashtun". The Pashtun ethnic group says that it refers to all the people of Afghanistan. Read an excellent examination of the issue in "The E=Tazkera Rift: Yet another political crisis looming?", Afghanistan Analyst Network (AAN),  February 22, 2018.

ACJC Criticized. The Anti-Corruption Criminal Justice Center is coming under fire. While it has arrived at a number of court decisions - the implementation of those decisions are ignored. In addition, it has failed to tackle major cases of corruption. "ACJC Critized As It Struggles to Fight Corruption", Tolo News, February 21, 2018.

2018 Elections in Peril? There are doubts about whether Afghanistan will be able to conduct its parliamentary elections in the summer of 2018. The Japanese are giving $13 million USD in aid to help in the conduct of the elections. While the Afghan government says it will run the elections for parliament and district councils there are many observers that say it won't happen. Read "UNAMA Chief Says Elections Must Be Held As Scheduled", Tolo News, February 21, 2018.

President Ghani Profiled. Ihsanullah Omarkhail (a writer on foreign policy, peace, state building, terrorism, etc.) provides a glowing assessment of President Ashraf Ghani in "Afghanistan: President Ghani's Concept of National Issues", Eurasia Review, February 18, 2018.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Afghan News Snippets

Remembering Afghan Elections of 2009. An American military officer assigned to a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Gardez in Paktia province remembers the Afghan 2009 presidential elections in "American Export: Elections", The Atlantic, November 7, 2016.

How to Advise. The Resolute Support mission is to "Train, Advise, and Assist" the Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) and the Afghan Security Institutions (ASIs). The U.S. has had over 15 years of experience in advising in both Iraq and Afghanistan. One such advisor - with advisory experience in both countries - provides his thoughts on how to advise in "My Lesson From 'The Long War'", Small Wars Journal, November 8, 2016.

Canada Remembers Fallen Service Members. 158 men and women died while serving in Afghanistan with Canadian Forces. On November 11th Canada remembered these individuals in a ceremony in Edmunton. See "Ceremony at Ainsworth Dyer Bridge remembers those who died in Afghanistan", Edmonton Journal, November 11, 2016.

"New Silk Road". A few years ago Europe yawned when it heard the news of a rebuilding of the "silk road" connecting Asia to the Middle East and Europe. Now times have changed. "Europe Finally Wakes Up to the New Silk Road, And this Could be Big",, November 10, 2016.

"No-Show Teachers". A recent news article informs us that the United States is providing bundles of money for teachers in Afghanistan who do not show up for work. "Afghan Watchdog: U.S. Pays Millions for No-Show Teachers, Students", NBC News, November 10, 2016.

Water Politics and Afghanistan. Iran and Pakistan are, in a big way, dependent upon Afghanistan for some of its water. The Afghan rivers, running downhill from its mountain snows, eventually flow into either Iran or Afghanistan. The relationship in the region is sometimes contentious over the amount of water leaving Afghanistan. Learn more in "Afghanistan's Water-Sharing Puzzle", The Diplomat, November 11, 2016.

Female Computer Programmers. In the western Afghan city of Herat female computer programmers are learning to code and are working in this fledgling industry. Learn about "Code to Inspire" - a coding school set up for women in November 2015 in "Meet Afghanistan's female coders who are defying gender stereotypes", The Guardian, November 7, 2016.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Vice President Dostum
Dostum on the Outs? It appears that Abdul Rashid Dostum is not happy with the National Unity Government (NUG). His nominations for selected personnel to be posted to the government have been ignored by President Ghani. Dostum's security plans for the creation of special units to fight insurgents has not received much attention either. He has been a constant factor in Afghan politics over the past three decades with great support from areas of northern Afghanistan. During the past 30 years Dostum switch sides in the conflict a number of times to include the Afghan civil war between the communist regime and muhjaheen - and also during the subsequent civil war after the fall of the communist regime and withdrawal of Soviet forces. Read more in "Afghan Vice President in Quiet Government Boycott Over Power Sharing", Gandhara Blog, February 1, 2016.

Rumored Resignation of MoI Minister? Twitter was raging yesterday (Sat) about speculation that the minister for the Ministry of Interior would soon resign. So the three most important Afghan Security Institutions (ASI) - MoD, NDS, and MoI could soon see 'acting' leaders is not encouraging. (Reuters, Feb 6, 2016).

Fist Fights in Kandahar. One of President Ghani's top aides got into a physical altercation with a leading tribal member of Kandahar province recently. The aide has been fired but there remains some hurt feelings that could be a major problem in the future if not smoothed over. Read more in "Afghan government rocked by Kandahar fistfight", Reuters, February 5, 2016.

Guide to Afghan Parliament. The Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) folks have put together an in-depth paper on the Afghan parliament. India just completed construction of a new parliament building ($200 million) and the two houses of parliament have plenty of seating in large halls. Read "New Building, Old MPs: A guide to the Afghan parliament", February 4, 2016.

No Elections? Afghanistan electoral institutions and processes are highly corrupt, inefficient, and ineffective. The recent history of the last presidential election resulting in the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG) shows just how bad the situation is. The deteriorating security and economic environment is not going to make things much better for the future parliamentary elections. Read more in "In Afghanistan, No Leadership Means No Elections", The South Asia Channel - Foreign Policy, January 29, 2016.

Corruption. The European Union issued a press release saying that the Afghan government needs to address the corruption found within government and police organizations. "Corruption remains endemic in Afghanistan", EU, February 2, 2016.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


RoL and Terrorist Detention Decree. "A recent decree by President Ghani on how to deal with terrorist crimes has introduced the prospect of detaining, without trial, Afghans (and foreigners in Afghanistan) suspected of planning acts of terrorism". Read "Casting a Very Wide Net: Did Ghani just authorise interning Afghans without trial?", by Lenny Linke and Kate Clark, Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), January 21, 2016.

Parliamentary Elections - October 2016. "Afghanistan's top election official says the country's long-delayed parliamentary elections have been scheduled for October 15." The Afghan legislature's 5 year term ended in June 2015 but elections were postponed because of security concerns and the rampart corruption of the 2015 presidential elections. Read more in "Afghan Election Officials Schedule Parliamentary Ballot for October 15", Radio Free Europe, January 18, 2016.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Governance News

Corruption. Sarah Chayes, a long-time resident of Afghanistan, is interviewed about her thoughts of corruption and how it ties to insurgencies and instability. Chayes entered Afghanistan shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan by the U.S. as a journalist. She soon transitioned to assisting Afghan women in starting up small enterprises in the Kandahar region. She became quickly became one of the more knowledgeable westerners in Afghanistan and ended up as an advisor to more than one U.S. general officer. One of her constant themes is how the U.S. didn't get a handle on the corruption in Afghanistan. Read more in "Interview - Sarah Chayes"E-International Relations, September 30, 2015.

NUG - One Year On. The National Unity Government (NUG) had its one-year anniversary this past week. While many observers point to success others point out the many failures. The taking of Kunduz City - the capital of Kunduz province - by the Taliban was not an indicator of the ability of the NUG to provide for better security. However, one observers seems to think the glass is half full. Read Tamim Asey in "NUG One Year On: Success", Foreign Policy, September 29, 2015.

Electoral Reform. Chayanika Saxena provides us with background on the continuing drama of reforming Afghanistan's electoral process in "The Promise of Ballot: Electoral Reforms in Afghanistan", Eurasia Review, October 2, 2015.

An Afghan Hotline for Corruption. A recently established hotline set up by the Afghan civil society organization Integrity Watch Afghanistan aims to combat Afghanistan's status as the fourth most corrupt country in the world. The hotline, known as the Whistleblower,  has received 7,000 calls since its inception three months ago. Over 750 of the complaints have been published anonymously on the organizations website. Read more in "Afghans Fight Corruption with a Hotline", Gandhara Blog, October 2, 2015.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Governance, Elections, etc.

Parliamentary Elections. Foreign donors are becoming frustrated with Afghanistan's failure to set a date for parliamentary elections. The elections were supposed to be held in April but have been delayed. The Afghan parliament's five-year mandate expired on June 22. "ELECT II" is a donor funded program run by the United Nations Development Programme that is due to end in December; however, it may shut down prior to December if the Afghans don't get their act together. The history of elections - presidential and parliamentary - is rife with corruption, meddling, violence, and vote-rigging. The latest presidential election held in the spring (and then summer) of 2014 did little to polish up the Afghan election image. In fact, it threw the Afghan government into chaos and impeded important progress in the conduct of Afghan military operations until it was finally resolved with the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG).

Governance in Afghanistan. An author provides us with his perspective on government, governance, and legitimacy in Afghanistan. Read "Inducing Cooperation: Building Governance in Afghanistan"Small Wars Journal, June 29, 2015 by Aaron W. Miller.

4th Oversight and Coordination Body. Coalition partners from 17 donor nations met with CSTC-A and others at the Afghan Ministry of Finance in mid-June to coordinate donor commitments for the ANSF in 2015 and beyond. (, June 23, 2015).

National ID Card Program. It appears that the long-sought-for but never implemented national ID program is still a ways from being put into place. The computerized digital ID program was to be rolled out years ago but corruption and miss-management has taken its toll.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Report - Electoral Reform in Afghanistan

The Afghan parliamentary elections are just around the corner. A recent survey shows that 92% of Afghans feel there is a need for electoral reform measures that should be implemented prior to the elections. Democracy International (DI) ". . . conducted a nationwide public opinion survey in Afghanistan on the heels of the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG) in 2014 in order to understand the Afghan public's attitudes about democracy and the elections, the impact and reach of civic education efforts, and confidence in political institutions . . . " You can read the report at the link below:

Friday, January 2, 2015

Podcast on Transitions in Afghanistan

Thomas Ruttig, a long-term observer of all things Afghanistan and co-founder of the Afghan Analysts Network (AAN), provides his comments on the 2014 elections, democracy, and governance in Afghanistan. Listen to the podcast here (AAN, Dec 26, 2014, 9 minutes).

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Afghan Elections - Unanswered Questions

The international community can look back at 2014 and say that the Afghans had a democratic transition from one Afghan leader to another through elections. However, below the surface are a number of questions that nag one's outlook. While the election(s) was held successfully and the international community rejoiced that the era of international troops engaging in combat operations in Afghanistan is over - there is much to worry about. Despite the election of President Ghani who claims he will reduce corruption - the warlords and power brokers still control many of the positions within the government and security forces. The economy is in a shambles. The Taliban are stronger than ever (announcements of ISAF otherwise should be disregarded). Read more in "Afghanistan elections leave unanswered questions for future", Stars and Stripes, December 23, 2014.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

EU Says Widespread Fraud in Afghan Election

A report by European Union election observers states that widespread fraud took place during the Afghan presidential elections. It says that over 1/4 of the votes cast came from polling stations with voting irregularities. More than 2.3 million votes during the runoff came from polling sites in which more than 95 per cent of the votes went to one candidate. The European Union's chief observer for the Afghan election, Thijs Berman, said of the fraud - "That is a North Korea situation". Read more in "E.U. Confirms Wide Fraud in Afghan Presidential Runoff Election", The New York Times, December 16, 2014.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Report - EU Election Assessment Team

The European Union Election Assessment Team (EUEAT) has issued its final report on the presidential election held on 5 April 2014 and the run-off election held on 14 June 2014. The report covers a number of topics to include the legal framework, election administration, voter registration, registration of political entities and candidates, electoral campaign, voter information and civic education, media, participation of women, civil society organizations and election observation, complaints and appeals, election days, audits of the results, election results, and recommendations. The report is an Adobe Acrobat PDF and is 51 pages long. You can download the report at the link below.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Afghan Election and Social Media

Sam Schneider, who at one time was the online editor for Tolo News, has posted an article on the South Asian Channel (Foreign Policy) on how Afghan social media has affected the elections and how it can sometimes be disruptive and inflame the tenuous political situation in Afghanistan. Facebook and Twitter are mediums that are very closely monitored and which provide instantaneous news alerts - although not always factual and sometimes inflammatory. In an attempt to add to the dialogue and shape the narrative the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) also has a twitter account at and a Facebook account at .Read more in "A Double-Edged Sword: Social Media and the Afghan Election", The South Asia Channel (Foreign Policy), October 16, 2014.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Elections and Young Democracies

Jordan Olmstead has wrote a piece entitled "Will AfPak Democracy Survive?" posted on The South Asia Channel of Foreign Policy on October 14, 2014. He looks back at the Afghan elections and examines the rise in political violence that young democracies experience.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Post-Mortem: Afghan Election

An observer and analyst of events in South Asia, Sharif Azami, has posted a post mortem on the Afghan election. He makes some great observations and draws some interesting conclusions in "The Ballot Stuffing Equilibrium and a Messy Compromise: Winners and Losers of the Afghan Elections", The Huffington Blog, October 10, 2014.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Afghan Unity Deal - Governance at its finest?

There are lots of commentators and observers remarking on the recent Afghan elections and the National Unity Government (NUG) that presidential candidates Ghani and Abdullah have agreed to form.. Some criticize the agreement as skirting the constitution and invalidating the elections in which the international community paid good money to run, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) expended great effort (and lives) to secure, and the Afghan population braved bad weather and Taliban threats to vote. However some feel that " . . . the deal was beneficial and represents a step forward in the natural evolution of Afghanistan's political system". Read more on the topic in "Forget Secrecy and Opacity: Afghanistan's Unity Deal Represents Governance at its Finest", by Akhilesh Pillalamarri in The Diplomat, September 26, 2014.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Kerry Enthusiastic about Afghan Election

Despite the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) not releasing the results of the extremely fraudulent Afghan presidential run off election held on June 14, 2014 Secretary of State John Kerry seems quite pleased with the end result of the Afghan election. Kerry has provided The Washington Post with an op-ed piece that was published on September 26, 2014 entitled "Afghanistan's triumph of statesmanship and compromise". He marked the event as " . . . the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan's history and the first peaceful leadership transition in more than 40 years". He states that "The United States supported a credible, transparent and inclusive electoral process without favoring any particular candidate. He really did say "credible" and "transparent". You can read the full text here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Constitutional Issues of a Unity Government

Everyone is breathing a sigh of relief now that the election results have been released (well, sort of released) and a "national unity government" headed by Ghani (and Abdullah) has been established. But one has to wonder about the future of Afghan elections; and there is a lot of speculation as to the legitimacy of the Afghan government. A lot of work has to be done in the future to ensure that future elections are not marred by fraud (Karzai is gone so that should help) and that the legitimacy of the Afghan government is established. Read more in "Constitutional Implications of a National Unity Government", Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), September 2014.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Elections - Will it Solve Afghanistan's Problems?

The recent election in Afghanistan (well, . . . not so recent) has many observers commenting on the future prospects of Afghanistan. Some people think the entire process was flawed and puts the future of Afghanistan in jeopardy; while others are more optimistic. Read the thoughts of someone who sees the glass half-full in "Afghanistan's Best Bet", Foreign Affairs, September 25, 2014.

The Cost of the Election in Afghanistan

The international community forked over millions of dollars to enable the election to take place.There was more than a financial cost to the Afghan election.  The resulting dispute between the two leading presidential candidates (lasting three months) hurt the Afghan economy. And . . . there is a cost to the democratic process. While the power-sharing deal between Ghani and Abdullah to establish a unit government is hailed as a breakthrough many observers are wondering what happened to the free, fair, open, and transparent elections. Read more in "This new era for Afghanistan has come at a cost", The Guardian, September 25, 2014.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Failure in Afghanistan - Ahmed Rashid

A noted author and correspondent with a great deal of expertise in Afghanistan has commented on the current situation in Afghanistan. The author, Ahmed Rashid, is not holding back, citing Afghanistan as having experienced a failed transformation over the past decade. He states that the "unity government" has no basis in Afghanistan's election law, is a make-shift compromise, and a defeat for the establishment of democracy in Afghanistan. The current planned withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops is a bad plan and premature. He recognizes the efforts of John Sopko (the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction - see as one of the few U.S. government officials who will speak the truth. Rashid frets about the relapse of Afghanistan into civil war and the emergence of groups more extreme than the Taliban. In four important areas of transition: political, military, economic, and regional diplomacy - he sees failure. You can read his full article in "Afghanistan's Failed Transformation", The New York Times, September 25, 2014.