Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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In the context of a review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan during September-November 2009, the performance and legitimacy of the Afghan government figured prominently. In his December 1, 2009, speech on policy in Afghanistan going forward, President Obama stated that the Afghan government would be judged on performance, and The days of providing a blank check are over. The policy statement was based, in part, on an August 2009 assessment of the security situation furnished by the top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, which warned of potential mission failure unless a fully resourced classic counterinsurgency strategy is employed. That counterinsurgency effort is deemed to require a legitimate and effective Afghan partner. The Afghan governments limited writ and widespread official corruption are identified by U.S. officials as factors helping sustain the insurgency in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai has been able to confine ethnic disputes to political competition through compromise with faction leaders, but these political alliances have limited his ability to stock his government with politically neutral and technically competent officers. Despite the loss of confidence in Karzai, he went into the August 20, 2009, presidential election as the favorite. Amid widespread charges of fraud, many substantiated by a U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission, nearly one-third of Karzais votes were invalidated, leaving Karzai just short of the 50 total needed to avoid a second-round runoff. Asserting that more fraud was likely, Karzais main challenger dropped out of the race on November 1, 2009, and Karzai was declared the winner. Karzai was inaugurated on November 19, with Secretary of State Clinton in attendance. On December 19, he presented a new cabinet to the National Assembly, retaining most of the better accomplished ministers but appointing allies of some faction leaders to several positions.
- Government and Political Science