Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

Afghan Power-Sharing Deal Ends Election Impasse

2 min

Voice of America, 23 September 2014

Extensive quotes of AAN’s Kate Clark in this article after Ashraf Ghani was named new Afghan president:

Kate Clark of Afghanistan Analysts Network is a long-term observer of the Afghan affairs. She is skeptical about Ghani’s claims the deal will ensure an effective governance and restore lasting peace to the country.

“There is relief that it [the crisis] is over for now but that is very, very short term relief. There is not a great sense of optimism that this will work out very well. It is felt [in Afghanistan] that people in charge, the politicians are actually more concerned about getting their own seats, getting their own wishes then they have been about the future of the country, that is the impression that has been given,” said Clark.

She said the country witnessed unprecedented enthusiasm among young Afghan voters, particularly in the first round of the presidential election, who are fed up with decades of conflict in their country.

She said the deal, struck secretly to share power, undermines that important process.

“Millions of people turned out to vote, you then have a deal done behind closed doors that the people have not been informed about. And I think that also shows what has been lost this summer, the sense of active participation [in the democratic process].  It is fairly new in Afghanistan, it does not have a great history of democracy but you did get a sense that people were coming out to vote and in some cases risking their lives and to come out and vote, and now they are turned back into passive people who don’t have a say and are not even consulted in what is going on,” said Clark.

Clark said that although the huge turnout in the election had surprised many critics it had actually upset the Taliban and put them on the defensive. Gaining a popular mandate is critical to defeating the country’s long-running insurgency. She says the way the political process worked out makes it even less likely the Taliban will be willing to negotiate a settlement to the war.

“And what we have got now, all that goodwill, that freshness, that motivation, I would say has been lost. I would say at the moment the main problem with getting the Taliban to stop fighting is that whereas earlier on in the year the Afghan state looked like it was going to emerge strong, united with a popular democratic mandate, I as an opponent that was to be feared, what has instead happened is that the state is a lot weaker, a lot more contested, and if you are the Taliban and you are making a political calculation as to what will suit you best, earlier in the year you might have been thinking about talks, now I am sure you would be thinking about fighting,” said Clark.