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Afghanistan - 28 September 2019 - Presidential Election

Polls opened in Afghanistan's presidential elections amid fears of violence following threats by the Taliban to disrupt the election process. Security had been tightened across the country, with tens of thousands of troops and police deployed to guard polling stations and prevent attacks.

The Afghan election commission said 20 March 2019 it would postpone the presidential election scheduled for July by two months. It was the second delay for the poll. The Independent Election Commission announced on that the presidential poll will be held on September 28 instead of July 20. The presidential election is held every five years. The postponement is believed to be due to delays in work on a biometric identification system designed to prevent fraud, which will be used for the first time for the presidential poll.

The commission explained that more time is needed to ensure a transparent and fair election. The presidential election had initially been planned for April but was later delayed until July. In the previous race in 2014, a recount was held following vote-rigging allegations. It took more than five months before the election results were finally announced. The commission had sought to use the biometric system to stress that the election is fair, but concern is growing over whether the poll can be held at all after repeated postponements. President Ashraf Ghani is seeking a second term. Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who is the number-two in the Ghani administration, and former national security advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar have also announced their candidacy.

With national elections initially scheduled for 20 July 2019 [delayed from 20 April 2019], Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission cited security as the most pressing concern. Nearly 9 million people have registered to vote, including more than 3 million women, according to the IEC. But the run-up to the elections has been marred by technical and organizational problems as well as accusations of fraud and abuse.

Afghanistan's electoral authorities say the country will hold its next presidential election on April 20, 2019, six months after parliamentary polls. The Independent Election Commission (IEC) made the announcement on August 1, as Afghanistan's Western-backed government has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014.

Security, funding, and the short time frame between the elections would present the biggest challenges to the polls, IEC spokesman Hafeezullah Hashemi said during a televised news conference. Nearly 14 percent, or 56 of the war-torn country's more than 400 districts, are under Taliban control or influence, according to a report published on July 31 by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) welcomed the IEC's announcement, calling it "an important moment for democracy in Afghanistan." In a statement, Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan and the head of UNAMA, also urged "all parties to perform their respective roles in order to ensure necessary timelines and conditions are met for credible presidential elections."

After weeks of disarray and mixed signals, Afghan officials announced December 30, 2018 that the country’s presidential election, scheduled for April 20, will be delayed by three months to ensure the polls are better organized than the chaotic parliamentary elections held in October. More time is needed to verify voter lists and to train election workers on a biometric identification system, aimed at reducing fraud. Parliamentary elections were overwhelmed by delays after the few staff trained on the biometric system did not show up at the polling booths and countless registered voters could not find their names on voter lists.

President Ashraf Ghani was expected to run for a second five-year term, while one of his main backers, ethnic Uzbek Vice President Abdul Rasheed Dostum, has formed an alliance with powerful leaders. These include former Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Noor, a leading figure in the largely ethnic Tajik Jamiat-e Islami party, and ethnic Hazara leader Mohammad Mohaqeq.

The last presidential election, in 2014, produced no clear winner after accusations of massive electoral fraud. Months after the vote, Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah agreed to form a national-unity government in which Ghani took the presidency and Abdullah took the specially created post of chief executive.

The registration of candidates for Afghanistan's July 20 presidential election closed on 20 January 2019 with 14 participants registered. The presidential election will be held simultaneously with provincial and district council polls. Candidates include incumbent President Ashraf Ghani, former national-security adviser Hanif Atmar, and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Several former officials of the Ghani-led National Unity government are also among the contestants.

  1. Abdullah Abdullah, who was appointed chief executive in a deal mediated by the United States after the disputed 2014 election, filed their nomination papers just hours before the Independent Election Commission (IEC) closed the proceedings. The Jamiat-e-Islami party, led by Acting Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, has decided to support Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in 2019 presidential elections. Jamiat leadership decided to be on the same ticket with the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan led by First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, and Hizb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami led by High Peace Council Chairman Mohammad Karim Khalili.
  2. Shaida Abdali, a former diplomat.
  3. Mohammad Haneef Atmar, former national security adviser, entered the race for presidential elections with former Vice President Mohammad Yunus Qanooni as his first Vice President and Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Mohaqiq as his second Vice President. Yunus Qanooni has served as Vice President to former President Karzai in 2014. He is a senior member of Jamiat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan led by Acting Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani. Atmar’s another running mate for second vice president, Mohammad Mohaqiq, is the second deputy chief executive of Afghanistan and chairman of the People’s Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan. Also supporting his team are former President Karzai, and key members of Jamiat, Yunus Qanooni and Atta Mohammad Noor, Mohammad Ismail Khan and Bismillah Khan. Atmar has served as interior minister during former President Hamid Karzai’s government as well as the national security advisor to President Ghani.
  4. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former ethnic Pashtun warlord accused of war crimes and once listed as terrorist by the U.S., has also joined the presidential race. Hekmatyar stopped his Hizb-i-Islami group from waging insurgent attacks against foreign forces and returned to Kabul from years of hiding in 2016 after signing a U.S.-backed peace deal with President Ghani's government. Hekmatyar's fighters have been blamed for committing atrocities during the Afghan civil war that enabled the Taliban to capture most of Afghanistan in 1996.
  5. President Ashraf Ghani is among the candidates seeking the country's top office.
  6. Enayatullah Hafiz
  7. Sayed Noorullah Jalili
  8. Ahmad Wali Massoud, head of Massoud Foundation, joined the race with Farida Mohmand, former Minister of Higher Education as his running mate for first Vice President and Abdul Latif Nazari, a university lecturer, as his running mate for second VP. Massoud, 54, has studied politics at University of Westminster in London. Massoud’s running mate, Farida Mohmand, 54, is a physician in profession and has worked in the National Unity Government. Abdul Latif Nazari, Massoud’s running mate for second vice president, has a PhD in politics from Tehran University. He is a lecturer at Gharjistan Institute of Higher Education. Massoud’s election ticket has entered the race with the slogan of “National Unity”.
  9. Rahmatullah Nabil joined the race with Army General Murad Ali Murad and former Minister of Women’s Affairs Massouda Jalal as his running mates. Nabil’s ticket, “Security and Justice”, is supported by a number of former officials including former National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta. Nabil served as Head of the National Directorate of Security from 2010 to 2012. On September 1, 2013, he was appointed as acting director due to the health problems suffered by Asadullah Khalid following an attempted assassination. Nabil was officially reappointed as the full-time director of the NDS on 28 January 2015. He also runs Mehwar-e Mardum-e Afghanistan also called Axis of people of Afghanistan, a Kabul-based political party.
  10. Abdul Latif Pedram
  11. Zalmai Rassoul, former foreign minister who came third in the last presidential election, is accompanied by Abdul Jabbar Taqwa and Ghulam Ali Wahdat as his running mates. Rassoul served as minister of transport and civil Aviation in 2002, as chairman of National Security Council from 2002-2010, and as minister of foreign affairs from January 2010 to October 2013. He accompanied Afghan President Hamid Karzai on all official visits since the establishment of the Interim Administration in 2001. He resigned as foreign minister on 5 October 2013 to stand as a candidate in the 2014 presidential elections.
  12. Faramarz Tamanna
  13. Hakim Torsan
  14. Noorul Haq / Noorulhaq Ulumi, Afghanistan’s former minister of interior Gen. Noorul Haq Ulumi, who also leads a newly established political party, Afghanistan People’s National Front (Jabha-e-Milli Mardum-e-Afghanistan), on Wednesday entered the race for 2019 presidential elections. Ulumi was born on August 1941 in Kandahar province in the south of Afghanistan. He graduated from the University of Kabul in 1966. Ulumi trained for his future military career in both the United States and the former Soviet Union. He was made the new governor of Kandahar by President Najibullah. In 2005, he was a lawmaker from Kandahar and he served as minister of interior for almost one year in 2005. Bashir Ahmad Bezhan, head of Kabul Attendants, an civil society organization, analyst and journalist in profession, and Mohammad Naeem Ghayur are his running mates. Bezhan unsuccessfully ran for president in 2009 elections. He also ran for parliamentary elections.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the term of the nation's new parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, on 26 April 2019 even as Kabul awaited results from the election held last October. esponding to opposition demands for Ghani to step down at the end of his term and allow the formation of an interim government, the president said he would continue in his position until the next election scheduled for September 28. Constitutionally, Ghani's term would end on May 22. However, the presidential elections that were supposed to be held earlier this year were delayed until September.

Afghanistan's presidential election turnout is unofficially estimated at just over 2 million voters, an election commission official announced. Only about one in five registered voters cast their ballot — lower than any of Afghanistan's three previous presidential elections. The first round took place amid deadly violence causing multiple casualties. Incumbent President Ghani was seen as the frontrunner in the 14-man race, with Abdullah Abdullah, the country's chief executive, considered his main rival. Preliminary results were not expected before October 17 and final results not until November 7. If no candidate gets 51 percent of the vote, a second round would be held between the two leading candidates.

Turnout in Afghanistan's presidential election was already a record low, at around 26 percent. But it could sink more as election authorities sift through the votes cast in the September 28 poll. The election commission could discard more than 700,000 of the 2.7 million votes cast in the poll because they fail to meet new rules aimed at combating fraud. The hitch could undermine a vote that organizers hoped would mark a turnaround from parliamentary elections a year ago that were tainted by widespread organizational and technical issues and the previous, disputed presidential poll in 2014 that threatened to tear the country apart. The commission used computerized voter lists and biometric voter verification in an effort to prevent the kind of large-scale ballot stuffing that tainted those elections. It has said it will only validate ballots that meet its criteria.

Afghanistan's election commission said 22 December 2019 the president has won a second term, earning 50.64% in a preliminary vote count, but his opponents can still challenge the result. Results for the Sept. 28 presidential polls have been repeatedly delayed amid accusations of misconduct and technical problems with counting ballots. Ashraf Ghani's appears to have beaten out his main challenger Abdullah Abdullah, who serves as the country's chief executive in a fragile national unity government. The election commission's announcement did not say when the final results will be presented.

It was not immediately clear if the results meant a second round of voting won't be needed. Afghanistan's election laws say that a runoff must take place if no candidate obtains over 50% in the results. The preliminary results found Ghani won 923,868 votes, 50.64%, while Abdullah won 720,990 votes, according to the head of the Independent Election Commission, Hawa Alam Nuristani.

On 18 February 2020, Afghan election officials said final results showed Ghani had taken 50.64 percent, above the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid another run-off. Abdullah had won 39.52 percent of last September's vote. "The election commission ... declares Mr Ashraf Ghani, who has won 50.64 percent of the votes, as the president of Afghanistan," election commission chief Hawa Alam Nuristani told a press conference in Kabul. "May God help him in serving the people of Afghanistan ... I also pray that peace comes to our country," she added.

Afghan presidential election challenger Abdullah Abdullah contested final results that declared incumbent President Ashraf Ghani the winner of a September presidential poll, vowing to form a parallel government. "Our team, based on clean and biometric votes, is the victor and we declare our victory. The fraudsters are the shame of history and we announce our inclusive government," Abdullah said at a press conference in Kabul.

Afghanistan's two rival leaders held parallel presidential inaugurations on 09 March 2020, after the pair failed to reach a deal in the face of a unified and resurgent Taliban. Their game of thrones left many Afghans despairing for their country's future, worried that Kabul's politicians will be no match for the Taliban in any peace talks. President Ashraf Ghani was sworn in for a second term as opposition leader, while his former electoral opponent Abdullah Abdullah held a rival inauguration. Hundreds of people assembled at two venues inside the presidential palace complex to watch the rival swearing-in ceremonies. Ghani's ceremony was disrupted by the sound of two rockets hitting the edge of the compound of the presidential palace compound in the capital Kabul. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah signed a power-sharing deal on 17 May 2020 to end the months-long political crisis, a step that is expected to boost efforts to move the peace process forward. Abdullah was appointed as the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) that will hold talks with the Taliban armed group. Abdullah's group will get 50 percent of the cabinet appointments and other provincial governors' posts as part of the deal. Abdullah would now have to build a consensus among the deeply divided Afghan political groups to come to a unified position when facing the Taliban at the negotiating table.

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Page last modified: 08-09-2021 13:04:23 ZULU