KABUL: The protracted process of Afghan vote counting and auditing has taken on a new, complicated dimension as Abdullah’s team issued an ultimatum Monday, stating that if their demands are not met before Tuesday afternoon the team will withdraw from both the election and the political process.
More than five month after the presidential elections held on April 5 and since none of the eight candidates failed to secure more than 50 percent of the more than 7 million votes cast in the process, the two leading candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, entered a runoff on June 14, but the result has still yet to be decided.
“If our demands, our logical demands which guarantee the transparency of the election process are not met before 02:30 p.m. local time, we will withdraw from both the election and political process,” warned a spokesman for Abdullah’s team Fazil Sancharaki at a press conference on Monday.
However, according to Afghans, the election process has proved boring and people from all walks of life are quickly losing patience, believing this election practice has changed their minds about the system and destroyed their dreams for a better future.
“Ignoring the people’s problems, both candidates have taken hostage of the people and their votes and under the excuse of defending the rights of people, are, in fact, adding to our problems,” a taxi driver, Ahmad told Xinhua. Describing both the candidates as “power thirsty politicians”, Ahmad, 39 said that the results of elections in India and Turkey had already been announced and they have formed their own governments but in Afghanistan both the candidates have been endlessly bargaining for power.
Initially, President Hamid Karzai had set August 2 for the presidential inauguration and transferring power to his possible successor, but the date was delayed until September 2, at the request of both the candidates and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
As of September 2, there is still no sign of a presidential inauguration in sight in the near future as the recounting of votes and auditing process has yet to be concluded by the election commission, in the presence of national and international observers. “Protracted vote counting, a prolonged auditing process and candidates’bargaining for power virtually equate to fraud in the election and also reveal the political immaturity of the people,” Abdul Saboor, a teacher, said, adding he is fed up with elections and would never cast his vote in the future. Local political analysts are of the view that the lingering election process may take several more weeks if not months to be concluded.
To solve the election impasse, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has visited Kabul twice since July and held meetings with both the candidates. He was able to broker a deal between the two presidential hopefuls under which the winner would become president and the loser become chief executive, a post equal to that of prime minister in a national unity government. Both the candidates have held a series of talks on the formation of a national unity government since July, but no tangible progress on the issue has been made. A senior leader with Abdullah’s team, Mohammad Mohaqiq, said Monday that talks on the political process for formation of a national unity government has failed and ended in a fiasco. Afghan political observers believe that the prolonged election impasse will negatively affect the country’s impoverished economy, security, political stability, and, finally make a mockery of the democratic election process among ordinary Afghans, who faced Taliban threats to cast their votes.
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