NEWS AFGHAN POLLS
KABUL: Incumbent Ashraf Ghani has been declared re-elected as Afghanistan’s president, after a prolonged vote-counting process lasting five months after the polling that took place in September. The announcement was made on Tuesday by the election authority, the Independent Election Commission(IEC), which said Ghani won more than half the polled votes.
Ashraf Ghani secured 50.64 per cent of the polled votes cast on September 28 last, while his electoral rival Abdullah Abdulla was credited with winning 39.52 per cent votes. As in the past polls, this time too the polling was marred by violence and allegations of electoral fraud. Hope is that Abdullah will now accept the verdict in good faith. While Ghani functioned in the past five years as President, Abdullah acted as Chief Executive, a status equal to that of prime minister.
The election commission had announced “preliminary results” in December, which saw Ghani winning the election by a small margin. However, Abdullah challenged the results and sought a recount. Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah shared power in the past five years under a Unity Government formula crafted by the US after Abdullah lost the 2014 polls to Ghani.
In the September 2019 polls, about a million of the 2.7million votes were nullified on the ground of irregularities. Finally, only 1.8million votes were counted. Afghanistan has a population of nearly 10 million. The sense of insecurity forced large numbers of voters to keep off the polling, as taliban factions had called for a boycott of the polls and threatened to kill those who ventured out on voting day.
Taliban rule in Afghanistan was ended by the US in 2001 when then President George Bush Junior ordered invasion of the landlocked nation following the Al Qaeda attacks on American installations. Its chief, Bin Laden, masterminded the attacks from Afghan soil. Bin Laden later got sanctuary in a hidden location near the military headquarters, at Abbottabad, near Rawalpindi. The Barack Obama administration sent drones to the hideout, assassinated Laden, and took his body away while the Pakistani military which gave him cover was caught napping. It happened in May, 2011.
The 70-year-old Ashraf Ghani, first elected to President post in 2014 September, enjoys support of the US as also India. Initially, the anthropologist-turned politician, who also functioned in the past as vice chancellor of Kabul University, had kept a distance with India and tried to build friendship with Pakistan. However, he later recognized India’s potential and the positive role it was playing there as a traditional and valuable friend, helping the war-scarred and Taliban-hit nation in its re-construction efforts.
India is contributing immensely for building the systems of democracy in Afghanistan, and has in specific built and donated the Parliament building, though pro-Pakistan Taliban faction targeted it time and again. India also helped Afghanistan on other fronts like infra-development, like in building of dams etc.
The United States still keeps a part of its military in Afghanistan as a precautionary measure and guard against mischief from militants. It is also that the US spoon-fed Ghani through his presidency. Before Ghani, Afghanistan was ruled by pro-India leader Hamid Karzai. -AGENCIES, -IHN-NN
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