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Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance

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Congressional rept.

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The capacity, transparency, legitimacy, and cohesiveness of Afghan governance are crucial to Afghan stability as U.S.-led NATO forces exit Afghanistan by 2016. The size and capability of the Afghan governing structure has increased significantly since the Taliban regime fell in late 2001. But, the government remains rife with corruption and ethnic and political tensions among its major factions are ever present. Hamid Karzai has served as president since late 2001 he is constitutionally term-limited and will leave office after a new president takes office. The first round of presidential elections took place on April 5, 2014, and the results required a June 14 runoff between Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani. The runoff increased ethnic tensions between Pashtuns, Afghanistan s largest group represented by Ghani, and the second-largest group, the Tajiks, with whom Abdullah is identified. Amid accusations by Abdullah of a fraud-inspired large increase in turnout between the two rounds, preliminary results released July 7 showed Ghani ahead 56 to 44. Secretary of State John Kerry has visited Afghanistan twice, brokering agreement by the two candidates to a recount all 23,000 ballot boxes and formation of a post-election unity government. The recount reportedly did not change the runoff vote outcome, but announcment has been delayed to enable completion of negotiations on the power-sharing agreement. The long delays in new leadership being inaugurated has complicating U.S. and NATO planning for a post- 2014 international mission to train Afghan forces and conduct counterterrorism operations. The election outcome is consequential because the constitution concentrates substantial power in the presidency, in large part through powers of appointment at all levels. The apparent winner of the runoff, Ghani, apparently does not want his powers as president diluted.

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  • Government and Political Science

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