Branching out executive power
The Afghan presidential election was both a success and a challenge nearly heading the country towards a deepening political crisis. Thanks to his Excellency secretary Kerry as well as both the candidates for beginning to take a prudent approach in making efforts to put an end to the ongoing electoral crisis. Unfortunately, the recount process which started two weeks ago has already been halted several times due to the disagreements of both the campaigns. Both candidates accuse each other for not accepting the very same guidelines proposed by the U.N. mission in Afghanistan in their presence. It is not the right time to appear in media outlets and start the same game blame scenario yet again. I personally hope that they do not take their disagreements to the extent where they regret the consequences and leave no room for any further dialogue. Especially now that they personally accepted the deal and inked it to abide by its components.
No doubt if there are certain individuals who are accused of orchestrating massive scale frauds in the run-off, before any recount, they should have been put on criminal trial and sentenced for national treason if guilty. Unfortunately, in Afghanistan the rule of law and the task given to the law enforcement agencies are symbolic and largely biased and politically motivated. At the very beginning post the run - off when the first audio recordings of a high ranking election staff alleged of committing votes rigging was released, neither the attorney general’s office nor Mr. Abdullah’s campaign and the alleged himself clarified the allegations and approached proper channels to clear the air. Apparently the task of conducting a decent election was given to a bunch of people who intentionally turned a very overwhelming turnout into its current halt and crisis, the people of Afghanistan who eagerly rushed to the polling stations and cast their votes have already begun to question the whole election process, thinking risking their lives and hoping for a visible change in governance was nothing but null and void.
For instance, India had its parliamentary election the biggest in the world in less than a month, with a new PM and cabinet already in place, Afghanistan conducted its elections prior to that in India with no avail post 5 months now. Sarcastically, if there was a Guinness category for the longest election in the world, we would have certainly held the disgracing title.
On the other hand the afghan president citing his impartiality in the whole process should have involved himself in sitting with both the candidates and giving them the proper advice in how to eventually put an end to this dilemma. He has ruled Afghanistan for over a decade now and has closely worked with both the candidates who were former ministers in his cabinet. Until the credibility on the released tapes is determined, his impartiality has already been questioned, but his indifference in approaching both the campaigns to settle their disputes ASAP is unacceptable and could trigger further uncertainty.
Now coming to how to branch out state authority and empower our national institutions once and for all with a new president in office.
Right from the very beginning when the Bonn conference on Afghanistan was initiated, the whole process never considered delegation of state authority within the state bureaucracy. For instance, the president as the sole decision maker on the top never felt the obligation to transfer some of his constitutional power to his running mates and that to his lower hierarchies. Historically, Afghanistan has always been a nation ruled with iron fist self proclaimed kings and dictators, being elected in office is seen both as a mean to consider yourself above the law and lean towards undemocratic channels to tighten grip over your power. Sadly, Afghanistan has always had crisis oriented politicians, thus it has never experienced a peaceful transition of power in its recent history.
Flashing back a few months ago, fortunately the very same idea was at least publicized by one of the electoral campaigns that insists in turning the presidential office into an institution, comprising of subcommittees each having their custom fit to do lists which many Afghans hope turns in reality.
Last but not least, we require a system where there is a highly restricted standards to enter institutions like the parliament, judiciary and high profile public posts. We had a very ugly experience of subcontracting key posts to the wrong people in the name of a national unity government in the last 13 years and this time the president with his vice presidents should have a clear vision of putting nepotism and personal interests aside and assign professional Afghans in their cabinet. This is the least they could do as a conciliation price to their voters’ aspirations.
Author: Naser Koshan
Washington, August 2014
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