Since the results of the ECC investigation have become roughly and widely known (47-48% for Karzai) the “process” has disintegrated into a large number of scattered negotiations and confidential meetings of which the status is unclear.
So everybody is phoning each other, swapping the fragments of what they have been told by so and so and how that contradicts what they have heard here and how that fits with this scenario there and several hours later the rumours swing the other way and a different strand of the story takes over as the headline of the moment.
All of this fueled and obscured by the multiple layers of negotiations and high-level consultations and offers of mediation, by the mobilisation of supporters and hints of demonstrations, by press conferences and rumours of press conferences, by claims of renewed calculations, by late night meetings and international phone calls, by posturing and guessing and second-guessing, by suspicion and confusion and a fair bit of waiting.
The focus of the flurry in terms of international attention has constantly shifted. A much simplified sequence of events over the last few weeks would include things like: Prevent premature declarations of success. Explore opportunities for a political settlement. Drop ideas of a political settlement. Get everyone to buy in to a newly defined “process”. Ensure procedural rigidity of the process. Explain procedural complexities of the process. Explain again. Keep everyone on board while explaining that the complexities of the process are different from what you explained before. Reach a conclusion which is leaked but not announced. Be unsure what to do with the conclusion. Explore opportunities for a political settlement. Announce that you will announce. Start multiple discussions by multiple actors on multiple levels in multiple directions on what to do with the conclusion which is still leaked but not announced. Delay announcement. Lose track of the multiple discussions. Explain the delayed announcement by pointing to the need for triple-checking, recalculation and rigidity. Delay announcement again. Continue multiple discussions. Be unsure about the nature of the preferred outcome.
The flurry is no longer focused; it is all over the place. And trying to piece together the fragments of information tells you what the dynamics are, but does not really help you predict what is going to happen.
Today’s reports and rumours illustrate how the fight – for the moment – is about the timing of possible negotiations and the role of a second round. There’s Karzai insisting that he is either given a first round victory (after which he will be open to negotiations) or an actual second round vote (as opposed to a second round that is so to speak not consummated, which would forever make him the President who did not really win). Then there’s Abdullah insisting that negotiations can only start after it has been clearly established that Karzai did not win in the first round, which is sort of incompatible. Then there are the various international actors weighing in, in search of a swift (and otherwise largely unspecified) resolution, for the moment focusing mainly on some form of buy-in by the two candidates – and nobody else. Then there is the ECC, which at some point will have to stop saying that they are about to post or announce the findings of their investigations. Then there is the IEC, whose instincts tell them to reject the ECC findings, but who for the moment are awaiting instructions on how this is to play out in the larger scheme of things.
That much is clear. For the moment. But who said what and when and to whom and what that means and whether any of it is true and whether everybody would repeat the same thing if asked again and what will come out of all of this and what things will look like tomorrow… all of that is not so clear.
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020