Finally, more than two months after E-Day, we’ve got them: the final results of yet another of Afghanistan’s fraud-ridden elections. Or have we? After today’s announcement by the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC), we know 238 out of the 249 members of the lower house, the Wolesi Jirga – something which the IEC called a ‘success’. The eleven representatives from Ghazni are still missing, pending a political deal about what is seen by the presidential camp as an unrepresentative result. And who knows – maybe, further changes can be expected if the country-wide and (for Afghan standards) mass protests by sympathisers of unsuccessful candidates continue unabated. The shenanigans are not yet quite over assumes AAN Senior Analyst Thomas Ruttig.
Caught between a hammer and an anvil, the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) has announced the (almost) final result for the 18 September parliamentary election today. If we counted correctly, 90 of the surviving 239 incumbents (ten were killed while in office) have been re-elected. This makes the 148 newcomers the majority in the house.
Some of the most outspoken 2005 deputies have not been returned: Kabul’s Kabir Ranjbar the untiring campaigner for the establishment of the long-delayed constitution oversight commission who will probably return to chair the Lawyers Association, Ghazni’s Daud Sultanzoy the former head of the Wolesi Jirga’s economic committee, former communist general-turned-Dr Abdullah ally Nur-ul-Haq Ulumi (Kandahar) as well as two other former leftwingers, Ismaili Mir Ahmad Joyenda (also Kabul) and Babrak Shinwari (Nangrahar). Also Dr. Roshanak Wardak (from Wardak) lost. From this liberal ‘faction’ (although not organized as such at all) critical of the government, initially only Ahmad Behzad (Herat), Shinkay Karokhel (Kabul) and Shakiba Hashemi (Kandahar), from Ulumi’s party, remained. They were joined by well-known civil society activist Rafiq Shahir and Dr. Saleh Seljuqi (both from Herat) as well as Seyyed Ishaq Gailani (Paktika) and Khaled Pashtun (Kandahar) after the latest ECC disqualifications. This short list is completed by the outspoken but very populist Ramazan Bashardost who dropped from rank 3 in Kabul in 2005 to 6 in 2010.
Instead, a number of well-known former mujahedin commanders (some of whom had been weeded out of the candidates list for links to illegal armed groups during the 2005 election) have made it this time. And theirs is impressively longer, including Amanullah Guzar from Kabul (the one possibly behind the Kabul riots in May 2006 when some NGO offices were burnt down and the EUSR office was attacked), Nangrahar’s Haji Abdul Zaher (from late Haji Qadir and Din Muhammad’s famous Eastern family), Qazi Kabir and Mutaleb Beg (both from Takhar) and possibly, if he succeeds to get one of the Ghazni seats, Khudaidad Erfani. Their jihad-era comrades Haji Almas (Parwan), Hazrat Ali (Nangrahar), Haji Muhammad Mohaqqeq, Mulla Ezzat and Anwar Khan Oryakhel (all from Kabul), Abdurrauf Ibrahimi (Kunduz), Alam Khan Azadi (Balkh), Shahzada Shahed (Kunar), Eng. Qarar (Laghman), Iqbal Safi (Kapisa), Zalmai Mujaddedi (Badakhshan), Dr. Malekzada (Ghor), Mulla Tarakhel (from the kuchis), Fukkuri Beheshti and Sadiqizada Nili (from Baiman and Daikundi) were also returned. Also returned were the outgoing speaker Yunos Qanuni and his rival for the post, Jihadi leader Abdulrabb Sayyaf, who is said to plan another attempt on the prestigious position.
Others from this category expected to win did not make it: Sobhan Qul from Tokhar and anti-Karzai commander Haji Amir Lalai (Kandahar) lost. Samangan’s usually unopposed strongman Ahmad Shah was disqualified as were Gul Muhammad Pahlawan, a brother of General Malik from the famous anti-Dostum family in Faryab, former governor and prominent Hezb-e Islami member Hamidullah Tokhi from Zabul, Sayyaf-related commander Daud and colourful Pacha Khan Dzadran (both from Paktia) who had most of their stuffed votes cancelled. Zalmay Tufan, who’s name shows up a lot in the Afghanistan Justice Projects report about human rights violations, did not get enough votes.
With Dr. Mohiuddin Mehdi (Baghlan) and Abdulhafiz Mansur (Kabul) the two chief ideologues behind the opposition but never very much united Jamiat camp, both highly educated urban Islamist intellectual, made it into parliament for the first time. As did Latif Pedram, a well-known writer who has lived in France for many years and is a leftist Tajik ethno-nationalist from Badakhshan. He will definitely add some colour to the new Wolesi Jirga because he is known for being very vocal and a federalist.
Two other prominent former Taleban – Mulla Salam Raketi (or Rocketi) from Zabul and Musa Wardak (Wardak) were not reelected, the latter was – ante factum – compensated with a seat on the High Peace Council. Qudratullah Zaki won the Takhar seat of his brother Sebghatullah Zaki, from Jombesh, who was killed in the Baghlan bomb attack.
Two other relatives of parliamentarians slain while in office will strengthen the ‘jihadi’ camp: Dr. Seyyed Ali Kazemi who ‘replaces’ his brother Mustafa Kazemi, a former minister, and Makhdum Muhammadi from Samangan who steps in for his father, Muhammad Islam Muhammadi who was a provincial governor under the Taleban.
Also some well-known Karzai supporters crashed out, like Muin Mrastyal (Kunduz), Mahmud Khan Suleimankhel (Paktika) and Jamil Karzai (Kabul), one of the President’s numerous ‘cousins’. That is a sign that the expected ‘Karzai campaign’ did not materialize as expected or was less effective than initially thought – or that the President was planning anyway to use other means later to get control over parliament, all in good time.
In broad strokes, the new parliament will be less experienced and less political (because of the number of young MPs without an organized base). It is likely to be more ‘warlord-dominated. There are also a much larger of number of businessmen who mainly see their mandate as a political insurance for their main economic interests, but many of whom have robust networks within the executive, among the jihadi-commander elites and in the foreign-funded world of contracting. Whether the new parliament will be pro-Karzai has to remain open until the newcomers have made up their minds in a few key votes. But even then it will likely remain open (as in the last parliament) because of the party- and faction-less nature of the house, which fragments it and makes it vulnerable to all kinds of (ethno-)political pressures and material incentives.
The most contentious issue for the moment, however, is Ghazni. This province’s eleven deputies (eight male and three female) remained unannounced. We have reported about this issue earlier: how all elected MPs from this ethnically diverse province would be Hazara and how the Ghazni Pashtuns would be without representatives in the new lower house of the parliament as a result of extremely low turn-out due to insecurity in their Taleban-controlled areas. Here Karzai’s immediate interest is at stake, as he often mobilizes ‘his Pashtuns’ for votes in parliament when everything else fails. And there was a kind of a ‘Pashtun majority’(*) in the old Wolesi Jirga which, he fears, may be lacking if he ‘loses’ Ghazni.
President Karzai is not amused about the IEC’s announcement of the results. He has exerted pressure on the commission – through the Attorney General Muhammad Ishaq Aloko (so much for the independence of the Afghan judiciary and the ‘success’ of judicial reform) – to delay the announcement of the result until, as Aloko put it, all claims of fraud and irregularities were investigated. This basically means: until a deal on Ghazni had been made.
Apparently, all kinds of models have been tried but failed, mainly due to the resistance of Vice President Abdul Karim Khalili: to cancel the election and have a new vote in the province, to appoint some Pashtuns senators or to grant senator seats to some of the winning Hazara candidates who would then step back so that Pashtuns could move up from the ‘losing’ positions on the result sheet. This is not made easier by the fact that there are ten more non-Pashtun candidates on the Ghazni result sheet before the first two Pashtuns appear – Eng. Abdul Hakim Dalili (a brother-in-law of Aref Nurzai and relative of former governor Raz Muhammad Dalili) and Daud Sultanzoy. That Karzai apparently backs a 6:5 formula – six Pashtun and five Hazara – doesn’t make it easier to reach a deal.
The eleven hitherto successful Ghazni candidates, on their part, say that they have agreed that they will only accept what they call a solution based on the law but not one, as one of them put it, ‘based on tribal or political issues’. If Karzai gets what he wants, they plan to boycott the parliament (together with sympathizers from other provinces) and predict widening protests in Ghazni and elsewhere. They stress that it is not sufficient for Karzai to reach an agreement with Khalili in Kabul on what a compromise should look like.
Meanwhile, new protests are already going on in other provinces. Supporters of Ahmad Shah in Samangan and of Haji Ashequllah Wafa, a popular businessman, in Baghlan blocked the main road to Mazar this morning. There are rumours that one or two people died, one of them may have been a sick women who died while stuck in traffic on her way to the hospital.
As usual, attempts to solve the issue were still going on this morning. The IEC press conference scheduled for 10.30 am was delayed for half an hour for ‘technical’ reasons – but in reality because the commission’s members were coming from the palace. It wasn’t clear whether Ghazni was discussed. Reportedly, there is a stalemate at the moment after the obvious options were rejected and the relations between the President and his deputy have become very strained.
Finally, the ‘international community’ – i.e. NATO governments – is also not very happy. It had wanted the IEC to announce the results before 18 November, the date originally given as a deadline, which would have been just in time for the NATO summit in Lisbon last weekend. Here it could have been sold as another success on which inteqal (see our blog on this issue here) can be based. Reportedly, Western countries’ and forces’ representatives in Kabul had told the IEC earlier that any announcement after 18 November would make the election ‘illegitimate’. That is rather a hypocritical argument after the ‘international community, including the under-the-radar UN had washed its hands from all political responsibility and had handed over to the much too weak and unconsolidated Afghan institutions. A fine example of premature inteqal.
Annex: List of the latest disqualified candidates and their replacements
(compiled by AAN)
1. Tsarenwal Abdul Satar Khawasi for Haji Fazel Sayyedkheli, Parwan
2. Haji Abdulmajid Wardak for Haji Wahidullah Kalimzai, Wardak
3. Sayyed Eshaq Gailani for Haji Mohammad Rahim Katawazai, Paktika
4. Haji Abdulqadir for Mahmud Khan Suleimankhel, Paktika
5. Abdulwali Niazi for Tsarenwal Abdul Rauf, Badakhshan
6. Delawar Aimaq for Dr. Nasim Mudabir, Baghlan
7. Muhammad Zahir Ghanizada for Haji Ashequllah Wafa, Baghlan
8. Muhammad Taher Zahir for Al-Hajj Ahmad Khan Samangani, Samangan
9. Muhammad Hussain Fahemi for Muhammad Rahim Ayubi, Sarepul
10. Muhammad Shaker Kargar for Gul Muhammad Pahlawan, Faryab
11. Muhammad Rafiq Shahir for Muhammad Marouf Fazli, Herat
12. Dr. Muhammad Saleh Seljuqi for Ahmad Wahid Taheri, Herat
13. Al-Hajj Eng. Munawar Shah Bahaduri for Haji Aziz Ahmad Nadem, Herat
14. Haji Muhammad Aref Tayyeb for Haji Nesar Ahmad Ghoriani, Herat
15. Simin Barakzai for Rahima Jami, Herat
16. Abdul Hadi Jamshedi for Ghulam Qader Akbar, Herat
17. Abdul Sabur Khedmat for Abdul Wali Hamedi, Farah
18. Al-Hajj Tsarenyal Muhammad Sarwar Osmani for Massud Bakhtawar, Farah
19. Abduljabar ‘Qahraman’ for Ma’alem Mir Wali, Helmand
20. Khalid Pashtun for Hashmat Khalil Karzai, Kandahar
21. Ataullah Jan Habib for Haji Niaz Muhammad Amir Lalai, Kandahar
22. Abdulqadir Qalatwal for Hamidullah Tokhai, Zabul
23. Abdul Habib Andiwal for Haji Muhammad Ismail Zabuli, Zabul
(*) The ‘Pashtun majority’ includes the important ten kuchi seats, the Baluch and some other small ethnic groups as well as those from across the ethnic divide who, for opportunistic reasons, side with the President on a case by case basis.