Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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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, who served as president since late 2001, was constitutionally term-limited and left office when his successor, Ashraf Ghani, was inaugurated on September 29. The inauguration represented a resolution of an election dispute that consumed Afghan and U.S. official attention from April to September. The results of the April 5, 2014, first round of the election required a June 14 runoff between Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and 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 visited Afghanistan twice to broker an agreement by the two candidates that tamped down threats by faction leaders loyal to Abdullah to seize power by force. The two contenders agreed to a recount of all 23,000 ballot boxes and to the formation of a post-election unity government under which the losing candidate will become Chief Executive Officer CEO of the government. The CEO is to function as a prime minister, pending a subsequent national deliberation over changing the constitution to create a formal prime ministerial post. On September 21, the two candidates formally signed the power-sharing agreement and Ghani was announced as election winner. Ghani was sworn in as president on September 29 and immediately appointed Abdullah as CEO.
- Government and Political Science