Foreign Policy Blogs

Afghan Presidential Election Delayed: Democracy's Slow Growth

041009_afghan_woman_voting.jpgJust as Iraq's provinces express their newly given right to participate in an election, the Afghanistan people will have to wait a little bit longer for their turn. The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan has decided to postpone the country's presidential election until August 20th for the expressed reason of registering more voters, setting up the voting machinery, and hopefully giving NATO/Afghan troops more time to bring ‘chaotic’ districts in control. This upcoming election will be only the 2nd time in the country's history that it will vote for a governmental head of state.

While Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar was preaching calm about the delay, opposition members of parliament, who oppose current President Karzai, have made vocal their concerns. The Afghan constitution calls for there to be presidential elections before the office's term is up on May 22 and now this is obviously not the case. It appears that Karzai will still hold the presidency during this interim period between May and August without Constitutional authority. Karzai, who has every intention of winning the upcoming election, has stated that he approves of the Election Commission's delay, but I have not heard much from him regarding the gray ruling period.

It seems that NATO/US are going along with the delay as they do not want to do anything that could threaten the further destabilization of the country and region. They could also use the time to get the new US brigades into position to protect civilian voters:

“We have always said it is important that elections should be held this year and we are pleased that the decision has now been taken,” NATO spokesman James Appathurai told Reuters.

“The date chosen will give us as NATO sufficient time to properly prepare to support the Afghan government in ensuring enough security for the elections to go forward.”

One has to be understanding that the situation in Afghanistan is far from ‘normal’ and in order to help build up a democratic state and society, time and patience will be needed on many occasions. It appears this is one of those times.

(Photo: An Afghan women voting in 2004)



Patrick Frost

Patrick Frost recently graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science - International Relations. His MA thesis analyzed the capabilities and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Central Asia and beyond and explored how these affected U.S. interests and policy.

Areas of Focus:
Eurasia, American Foreign Policy, Ideology, SCO

Great Decisions Discussion group