The cross : What analysis can we make of these Afghan elections?
Jean-Luc Racine: Organizing presidential elections in Afghanistan, a country very unstable due to wars, was not easy. We knew that these elections were going to be complicated as were the legislative ones and as was especially the presidential one, five years ago. Outgoing President Ashraf Ghani, whose term expired in November 2019, was elected, according to final figures, with just over 50% of the vote.
Inevitably, there were challenges from the other candidates. Abdullah Abdullah, a former chief executive in the government, is one of them. He had already announced before the publication of the results that he would contest this decision. Denouncing the fraud, he said he would form his own government. The fact remains that Ashraf Ghani’s legitimacy is in some way supported by the electoral commission, but that is not enough to impose him on the complex political game of Afghanistan.
→ ANALYSIS. In Afghanistan, we vote then we negotiate
Already in 2014, Ashraf Ghani had won the elections, but John Kerry, the former US secretary of state, had successfully negotiated an agreement. He wanted to somehow create a coalition government led by Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. The deal was made, but the presidency was unmanageable.
To what extent could negotiations between the Taliban and the Americans influence the legitimacy of Ashraf Ghani’s power?
J-L.R: I can hardly see Donald Trump’s United States wanting to get involved in this affair at the time when a possible unprecedented agreement with the Taliban could emerge. I speak with caution, but the announcement by the end of February of potential middle ground between US negotiators and Taliban delegates based in Doha is plausible. However, the terms remain to be established.
→ MAINTENANCE. Is peace possible with the Taliban in Afghanistan?
This agreement between the Americans and the Taliban, if confirmed, would be only the first step towards what has long been awaited, namely an inter-Afghan dialogue, between the government and the Taliban. Something that has always been ruled out by them. For them, Kabul is “a puppet of Washington”, therefore illegitimate.
On February 18, Ashraf Ghani made clear in his victory speech the need for national unity to start hypothetical negotiations with the Taliban. However, like the disputed presidential results, the national union of the political class is seriously undermined.
Can the contestation of the results interfere in the negotiations between the Taliban and the Americans?
J-L.R: It is probably a coincidence in history, but these political tensions linked to the presidential fall just during the week when the Taliban had accepted a temporary cease-fire, a test before entering the path of an agreement. with the United States. Contesting the results can potentially paralyze this initiative. However, a Taliban spokesman announced a few days ago that an agreement with the Americans may be signed by the end of the month. But the wait can go on.