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Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
Pagination or Media Count:
Building capacity and limiting corruption at all levels of Afghan governance are crucial to the success of a planned transition from U.S.-led NATO forces to Afghan security leadership by the end of 2014. The capacity of the formal Afghan governing structure has increased significantly since the Taliban regime fell in late 2001, but many positions at the local level are unfilled. Nepotism and political considerations in hiring are entrenched in Afghan culture and limit development of a competent bureaucracy, as does widespread illiteracy. President Hamid Karzai has accepted U.S. help to build emerging anti-corruption institutions, but these same institutions have sometimes caused a Karzai backlash when they have targeted his allies or relatives. International efforts to curb fraud in two successive elections for president in 2009 and parliament in 2010 largely failed. In August 2010, the large Kabul Bank nearly collapsed due in part to losses on large, poorly documented loans to major shareholders, many of whom are close to Karzai or are power brokers in their own right. That issue was partially resolved with the prosecution of several individuals allegedly responsible for the scandal and a resulting resumption by the International Monetary Fund IMF in December 2011 of its credit program for Afghanistan. Even though the formal governing structure remains weak, Karzais critics assert that he seeks to concentrate power in his office through vast powers of appointment at all levels. Reflecting these broader suspicions, Karzai has publicly and repeatedly denied assertions by opposing faction leaders that he wants to stay in office beyond the 2014 expiration of his second term, the limits under the constitution.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE