Afghanistan : Politics, Elections, and Government Performance

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The capacity, transparency, legitimacy, and cohesiveness of Afghan governance are crucial to Afghan stability as nearly all international forces exit Afghanistan by the end of 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. Its recent elections have been marred by allegations of vast fraud and resulting post-election political crises. 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 a presidential 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 Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah-increasing tensions between Ghani's Pashtun community, Afghanistan's largest group, and the Tajik community with which Abdullah is identified. Amid accusations by Abdullah of widespread fraud in the runoff, Secretary of State John Kerry brokered an agreement for a recount of all 23,000 ballot boxes and formation of a post-election unity government under which Abdullah, the losing candidate, became "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. The resolution of the election dispute paved the way for the long-delayed signing of formal agreements to permit U.S. and NATO deployments in post-2014 international missions to train Afghan forces (Resolute Support Mission) and conduct counterterrorism operations (Operation Freedom Sentinel). To date, the power-sharing arrangement has nearly paralyzed the Afghan central government. Abdullah's role in governance has been limited and, until early January 2015, the two were unable to agree to new cabinet appointments despite a constitutional requirement to form a cabinet within 30 days of taking office. The government has been run in the interim by caretaker officials and bureaucrats lacking high-level policy direction. The cabinet choices reportedly represent efforts to balance the need for competent officials with the demands to satisfy both leaders' key constituencies. Government authority remains constrained not only by the power-sharing arrangement but also by the exertion of influence by the long-standing informal power structure consisting of regional and ethnic leaders. Faction leaders often maintain groups of armed fighters who often exercise arbitrary administration of justice and commit human rights abuses. These constraints could slow Ghani's efforts to prioritize curbing governmental corruption and promoting women's rights. International officials and groups are attempting to help ensure that the significant gains in civil society, women's rights, and media freedoms achieved since 2001 are preserved. Those gains have come despite the persistence of traditional attitudes and Islamic conservatism in many parts of Afghanistan-attitudes that cause the judicial and political system to tolerate child marriages and imprisonment of women who flee domestic violence. Islamist influence and tradition has also frequently led to persecution of converts from Islam to Christianity, and to curbs on the sale of alcohol and on Western-oriented media programs. Afghan civil society activists, particularly women's groups, assert that many of these gains are at risk as international forces depart, especially should there be a reconciliation agreement between the government and insurgent leaders. See also CRS Report RL30588, Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, by Kenneth more

Product details

  • Paperback | 62 pages
  • 215.9 x 279.4 x 3.56mm | 217.72g
  • Createspace
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1507737386
  • 9781507737385