NUG Fractures in Afghanistan Increasing Portends of Instability
In the run up to the Presidential Elections in Afghanistan, NUG has developed differences and consensus based on which it was formed in September 2014 has fractured.
In the post Presidential elections scenario in Afghanistan in September 2014, where the two candidates in the second round runoff – Dr Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Dr Abdullah Abdullah raised issues pertaining to fraud in the electoral process, a national unity government (NUG) was formed to be led by the former as the President and the appointment of the latter as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) as a defacto prime minister.
This position was to be ratified by a Loya Jirga which has never been held.
The agreement includes the authority of the CEO the main clauses of which include participation of the CEO with the President in bilateral decision-making meetings, providing advice and proposals to the President for appointment and dismissal of senior government officials and other government affairs based upon a specific merit-based mechanism and so on.
On Monday (27 May 2019) the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Abdullah Abdullah stated that he was not aware of the recent appointments by President Ashraf Ghani. These included the acting ministers for Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Ministry of Energy and Water and Ministry of Higher Education.
“Any change in ministers recently is only considered a political decision, not another move,” Abdullah said. “It is unfortunate that when the changes happen, the people of Afghanistan, including the relevant ministers are informed through social media.” “As the chief executive, I was personally embarrassed when I was asked about one of the ministers who was dismissed, and I replied that I was not aware of that. I was not informed,” as per Afghan news channel Tolonews.
Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah also called for a neutral investigation to be launched into the allegations of sexual abuse of women and promoting depravity at the Presidential Palace, the same day. “Recently allegations were made about the election of women in the parliament which have left negative impacts on the views of the people. This issue should be investigated independently and any political dealing with the issue should refrain. If the issue is tackled politically, this would have impacts on the healthy efforts of the women of the country and this will not be compensable especially by those faithful and committed women who are working across Afghanistan,” Abdullah said at the Council of Ministers meeting which he chairs every alternate Monday.
The Council of Presidential Candidates which has been formed to create a common platform for candidates participating in the 28 September elections on Sunday (26 May) accused President Ghani of “bullying and violating the laws of the country,” with reference to recent appointments in the country. The Council has already declared the NUG as illegal after 22 May and has called for an interim government and is even willing for President Ashraf Ghani to lead the same.
The Council also includes Stability and Partnership election team led by Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah
Dr Abdullah Abdullah did not participate in the Loya Jirga which was held to discuss the terms of engagement with the Taliban from 30 April to 03 May claiming that this was more of a campaign drive by the President and the selection of delegates was not free and fair. A number of other key Presidential candidates and the former President Hamid Karzai also declined to participate in the Loya Jirga.
Quite evidently in the run up to the Presidential Elections which are to be held on 28 September the NUG has developed differences and the consensus based on which the agreement was reached in September 2014 has fractured.
In the interest of ensuring free and fair polls, there is a necessity of establishing an interim government based on consensus between the 18 Presidential candidates including incumbent President Ashraf Ghani.
This will prevent allegations of misuse of authority by Mr Ghani. In addition a strong signal of national unity will be send to the Taliban who have refused to hold talks with the Ghani government questioning legitimacy. In Afghan politics however, logic and consensus have never been strong.