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Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani. (AP)
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani. (AP)

Opinion | Afghanistan’s ho-hum poll outcome

Democratic elections in Afghanistan have been under the world’s watch ever since the Taliban were ousted from power by a US-led coalition

Ashraf Ghani appears set to win a second term as Afghanistan’s president, going by preliminary results announced on Sunday. According to the country’s election commission, the incumbent won 50.6% of the 1.82 million votes cast in the September 2019 election, while his main opponent Abdullah Abdullah got just 39.5%. Since there were several reports of alleged irregularities during the polling, it remains unclear if the interim result announced enjoys sufficient credibility among Afghans at large. The long delay has not been a good advertisement for the election commission either.

If Ghani does get a second term, he would get the authority he has long sought to demand a leading role in peace talks with the Taliban in the war-ravaged country. Whether he will smoothly be able to assume office, though, is doubtful. Under Afghan electoral laws, preliminary results can be appealed, and the narrow margin by which Ghani has averted a run-off poll means that such challenges could be numerous. Two other facts could compound the uncertainty: Abdullah seems unwilling to concede the election and a date hasn’t been set for the final result.

Democratic elections in Afghanistan have been under the world’s watch ever since the Taliban were ousted from power by a US-led coalition. But with every election, the spirit of democracy has taken a beating. The latest one was tarnished by a low voter turnout and charges of election fraud. What the US seems most keen on nowadays, however, is a channel of communication with the Taliban. And opening one is not proving easy.

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