Saturday 24 October 2009

Who will benefit from re-run of Presidential election?

Who will benefit from the re-run of the Presidential elections in Afghanistan? No-one except the the insurgents is my guess. The whole election process is now mired by corruption allegations and has left President Karzai looking like a spiv, willing to do a deal with anyone who will give him a vote.
Even before the voting began, Karzai had brought disrepute on himself by doing deals with warlords and local power brokers in order to win votes. Worst of all, he allowed General Dostum to return to the country from exile in Turkey in order to garner the votes of his Uzbek and Turcoman followers. This was despite the fact that there is a strong possibility war crimes charges will be brought against the General over his treatment of Taliban prisoners in late 2001.
Nor is it only the present incumbent who looks bad. So too does the United Nations, whose top officials were clearly divided on whether or not another election should take place. In September Peter Galbraith, the deputy head of the UN Mission, abruptly left the country after refusing to take part in what he called "a cover-up" of fraud.
Galbraith, son of the great American economist and a former US ambassador to Croatia, said that before the 20 August election, he wanted to take steps to minimise fraud by eliminating "ghost" polling stations in Taliban-held territory - but his boss, Norwegian Mr Kai Eide, rejected the proposal.
During the election, the UN collected data on fraud - but Mr Eide ordered that it not be shared with the Election Complaints Commission, he said. And after the election, Mr Eide objected to Mr Galbraith's insistence that the Independent Election Commission stick to its published anti-fraud criteria, he added.
"I was not prepared to be complicit in a cover-up or in an effort to downplay the fraud that took place. I felt we had to face squarely the fraud that took place. Kai downplayed the fraud."
A few weeks later and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the dismissal of Mr Galbraith "in the best interest of the mission". Galbraith's account of the whole mess is horrifying.
Soon after that one of the two Afghans on a UN-backed commission looking into vote fraud in the election resigned, citing interference by foreigners. Maulavi Mustafa Barakzai alleged that the three foreigners on the panel — one American, one Canadian and one Dutch national— were “making all decisions on their own” without consultation. The complaints commission rejected the allegation.
Now that it has finally been decided to hold another election, it begs the question of whether or not Mr Galbraith should be reinstated (and Mr Eide sacked), as everything he said was true and the UN is now doing what he said they should do. Either way, the likelihood is that the turn-out will be crushingly low and that Karzai will win, to limp on as a damaged president.
Surely it would have been more sensible to persuade Karzai to share power with Abdullah Abdullah, his rival, and call off the second ballot?
Already Mullah Omar's Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IOA) is gloating over the likely confusion of a second ballot. Yesterday it issued a statement:
"It is now clear as the broad daylight that the August 20 elections in Afghanistan was readily ludicrous and preposterous which caused more shame and disgrace to the surrogate regime in Kabul. Only a minuscule numbers of voters participated in the polling from among the 30 million Afghans. Still the elections were fraught with fraud, ballot stuffing and corruption.
"A great number of Afghans observed a complete boycott. It is still a matter of extreme shame for the supporters of the sham democracy, that they were merely able to announce the results after the passage of two months."
Hard to argue with that. The statement goes on:
"If the Americans and their allies had not their goals and hidden agenda, they would not have blocked the way of the election results from being declared soon. But they did not achieve what they wanted to achieve as a result of the elections.
"This is why they are themselves sacrificing the so-called democracy, which they are supposed to build. By doing so, they have manifested that they are abiding by the rules and the slogans as long as they correspond with their interests. Otherwise, they are not bound by any rule."
That is exactly how it appears to many people in Afghanistan, who will say that the West only supports democracy when it gives the right result.

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