With counting reaching the half way mark in the Afghan elections, there appears to be clear a favourite.  Dr. Abdullah Abdullah – the runner up to President Karzai in the 2009 elections – is way ahead of his nearest rival, the ex warlord and technocrat Ashraf Ghani, with Rassul – the candidate favoured by the President.  The result of the democratic process might however not have the desired outcome, and actually push the country further into chaos and towards civil war.

A brief word with Abdullah at the start of his presidential campaign.
A brief word with Abdullah at the start of his presidential campaign.
  1. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah  – 1,536,133 (44.4 %)
  2. Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani – 1,146,251 (33.2%)
  3. Dr. Zalmay Rassul – 357,903 (10.4%)

The problem with this result is that if Abdullah wins –  and at this time it certainly looks possible unless there is another industrial-scale fraud which robbed him of victory in 2009 – the Pashtun majority in the country will not accept him.

Afghanistan is made up of tribes, and although Abdullah has a Pashtun father, because of his links to Massoud  – the Northern Alliance commander killed by Al Qaeda two days before 9/11 – he is persona non grata amongst the Pashtun community.

His election as president could well reignite the inter tribal hatred which although has been subdued in recent years, is ubiquitous in Afghan culture.  The Pashtuns – the biggest tribe – are used to getting their own way, and no amount of democracy will stop them.

Dr. Abdullah signs as a presidential candidate. October 2013.
Dr. Abdullah signs as a presidential candidate. October 2013.

2 Comments

  • interesting article.
    now they are down to 2nd round of elections, and Rassul has pledged his support for Abdullah, how does this affect things in terms of Pashtun support ?
    thanks

    • Gareth,

      The final results for the first round are due today – 14th May. But Rassul the third place candidate, has already dropped out of the race and has put his support behind Abdullah. This in theory puts Abdullah way ahead of his runoff mate Ashraf Ghani, but its still far from being over. There are no doubt deals being done to ensure that tribal allegiances are exploited to their utmost. If I was asked to call it I would say Abdullah, but this is Afghanistan and anything can happen.

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