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The Constitutional Oversight Commission in a Standoff with President Ghani: Defending their independence or covering up mistakes?

The Afghan government has found itself in a complicated legal tangle again. After the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution (hereafter, Constitutional Oversight Commission) dismissed its chair, the president ordered an evaluation of the Commission’s performance in a move that looks designed to curtail its independence. Although the legal basis for the […]

The ‘Ankara Coalition’: Opposition from within the government

Over the past two years, the National Unity Government (NUG) has been challenged by internal power struggles, protest movements and now an ‘opposition’ coalition made up of influential officials from within. It is the first time, however, that leaders of three mainstream political parties from three major ethnic groups have joined forces – at least […]

Update on Afghanistan’s Electoral Process: Electoral deadlock broken – for now

Afghanistan’s electoral reform process, a major part of the National Unity Government’s programme, has been slow and painful with its high stakes and divided government positions. But over the last few months two significant hurdles have been taken: the new electoral law has finally been passed, and the new electoral commissions have been appointed. Although […]

The Politics of Opposition: A challenge to the National Unity Government?

The failure to implement its own agreement and the continuing rift within the National Unity Government have created an opportunity for political opposition groups across the spectrum to voice their criticism of the government. In the past, Afghanistan’s political opposition has been made up of various councils and fronts, often associated with prominent powerbrokers and […]

Afghanistan’s National Unity Government Rift (1): Crisis averted (for now), back to appointing commissions

Just weeks before the upcoming donor conference in Brussels on 5 October 2016, the two leaders of Afghanistan’s National Unity Government (NUG) erupted into a fierce, public argument. Chief Executive Abdullah accused President Ghani of unilateralism and called him “unfit” for his office; the president hit back implying that the rival camp was merely trying […]

Another hurdle for elections in 2016: MPs reject presidential decree on electoral commissions

Had MPs approved the presidential legislative decree ‘reforming’ the electoral commissions, Afghanistan would now be significantly closer to holding parliamentary and district elections. (And the National Unity Government could have claimed to be pushing forward on electoral reform, something required by the agreement that established it.) However, after three days of ill-mannered discussion, MPs roundly […]

Pushing the Parliament to Accept a Decree: Another Election without Reform?

Afghanistan’s electoral reform process, that was supposed to be a precondition for the next ballot, has been excruciatingly slow and has culminated in a watered-down version of its original mandate. The delays mean that it has by now become practically impossible to hold elections this year. The presidential palace, however, continues to insist that both elections […]