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Editorial: Dawn of another electoral crisis

A new blow to the Afghan presidential election came on Sunday as the incumbent CEO Abdullah Abdullah, also a presidential candidate and longtime rival of President Ashraf Ghani, withdrew his team of observers from the ongoing official vote recount process – which the Independent Election Commission (IEC) began despite opposition from Abdullah’s team. Against a backdrop of inordinate delays in the tallying process on the part of IEC, Abdullah warns of considering peaceful and legal next steps if the IEC continued with the recount. Abdullah states that the outcome of such recount – where his observers are absent – would be illegitimate and not acceptable to him. Along with Abdullah, two other presidential contenders, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Rahmatullah Nabil, have also boycotted the recount process, whereas Ghani’s team has emerged in favor of the IEC’s decision.

Since 2009, it would be a third time that frontrunners of the election are challenging each other’s victory because rumor has it that Ghani’s team polled more than 50 percent of the vote and there is no need for a second round. Meanwhile, the recent vote mirrors the deeply flawed 2014 presidential election. The results of the last presidential vote, in 2014, were only cleared following mediation by the US to broker a power-sharing deal between then-candidates Ghani and Abdullah. The fiascos of the 2014 presidential polls are going to be repeated yet again as the frontrunners are once more Ghani and Abdullah; however, this time the situation would be far worse and bodes ill for the country’s future.

At this hour, with political uncertainty at its peak, the country is degenerating into yet another full-blown crisis, the dawn of which is the current acrimonious electoral controversies. If not resolved at the earliest, the crisis of 2019 would be much worst and dangerous than that of 2014, when the crisis only started after the run-off. It’s because both the contending parties – sharing a 50-50 power for a five-year term – have gained enormous influence, something that they would utilize by giving rise to a public and political disorder as none of them has the will to accept defeat graciously or agree to a smooth transition. The status quo signifies that the frontrunners have no intention of working for the interests of the country but all their struggles are nothing else but a wrangle about power – something which has turned electoral fraud into a tradition. Sadly, it’s the Afghan masses who suffer the consequences of such incompetent leaders.

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