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August 14, 2014

Afghan election in deadlock after runoff vote

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Afghanistan’s presidential election is in a deadlock after a runoff vote, raising concerns about the country’s future.

Afghan voters cast their ballots for the first round of elections on April 5, with a runoff vote on June 14 between former finance minister Ashraf Ghani and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah.

Ghani received a majority of votes in the runoff but faces charges of fraud from his opponent.

Secretary of State John Kerry has visited Afghanistan twice to intervene, but the election remains deadlocked.

The election has called into question whether the Afghan government will be stable by the time American troops plan to withdraw. President Obama said in May that he plans to withdraw all but 9,800 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, with a full troop withdrawal planned for the end of 2016.

The troops that remain after this year will serve in advisory roles and would no longer patrol Afghan territory, Obama said.

A disagreement over vote counting could lead to a split of power between the two candidates or a three-way split between the candidates and the religious fundamentalist group, the Taliban.

A power struggle would not benefit either of the candidates, James Dobbins, former special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said.

In spite of the election struggle, Afghanistan is on a positive track toward democracy, Dobbins said.

“Afghanistan spent the previous 30 years in the midst of a civil war, and it’s made remarkable progress over the last 10,” he said.


Warm up questions
  1. Where is Afghanistan?
  2. What has the relationship between the United States and Afghanistan been since the terrorist attacks took place in the U.S. September 11th, 2001? Hint – think in terms of political and military relations.
  3.  Why is it important to have a clear, legally binding process to elect a president? How do presidential elections work in the United States?
Critical thinking questions
  1. Why is it particularly important to the people of Afghanistan to make sure there is a clear winner in this presidential election? What might happen if there is not a clear winner?
  2. Why is the United States’ Secretary of State playing a role in another country’s election? What might be the U.S. government’s motives? Hint – think about the current military relationship and how it will be changing in the near future.
  3. Think about the impact that a civil war (a war between two factions within one country or territory) has on a country in terms of their government’s ability to function, the economy, and the daily life of their population. You can use the U.S. Civil War as an example if you can’t think of any more recent civil wars to help think about these questions. How is it important to the future of the country to form a new government that has the trust and support of the people? What role does a new government play in the country’s ability to improve infrastructure like roads, banks and schools?
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