For the second time, the election body of Afghanistan made the decision to postpone the country’s presidential election. It was originally set to take place on April 20, and then it was moved to July 20, and now it has been moved to September 28. The commission for the election pointed out recent amendments to certain election laws and the “numerous problems” that are currently affecting the voting system in the war-ravaged country. Afghanistan’s International Election Commission (IEC) originally delayed the election at the end of December over “security, operational, and technical related issues.”
According to the Agence France Presse (AFP), “Many observers had considered both dates unrealistic given the Independent Election Commission (IEC) is still finalizing results of October’s shambolic parliamentary elections.” On Wednesday, the IEC released a statement that read: “In order to better implement the rule of election law, ensure transparency, as well as voter registration, the presidential election, provincial council election as well as the parliamentary election of Ghazni province, will be held on September 28.”
The EIC will make sure the election happens as it should “provided all relevant sides, especially the government and the international community, provide the IEC with the required budget on time,” the statement said. The election body also announced that the elections for all 34 provinces in Afghanistan are scheduled to happen on September 28, as well.
The elections this year are happening at the same time as the ongoing negotiations between the United States ally, Kabul, and the Taliban, who are still refusing to allow the Afghan government to participate, regardless of the United States insisting that they do so.
President Trump has made it his primary goal to help put an end to the 17-year-old war between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which has cost the United States billions of taxpayer’s dollars, not to mention the thousands of civilian and military injuries and deaths that have occurred.
“The announcement by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) comes after speculation that the vote would be postponed to create space for US-led efforts to end the 17-year war with the Taliban,” explained the AFP.
The Voice of America (VOA) also adds: “The rescheduling of the presidential vote comes as the United States is trying to find a political settlement to its 18-year-old war with the Taliban. But it is not clear whether the dialogue has anything to do with the rescheduling of the elections.”
Even though peace discussions have been taking place, the Taliban has intensified their attacks against Afghan troops as well as civilians. According to the Wall Street Journal, Zalmay Khalilzad is leading the talks with the Taliban in an effort to discuss plans to pressure Kabul into delaying the elections, while America attempts to convince the Taliban to agree to a peace pact between the two.
Even though President Ashraf Ghani, who will be running for re-election, rejected the proposal initially, it seems that his opinion has changed and he has expressed his support to delay the election again. A top Ghani administration official was in the United States last week when they bashed the Trump administration for apparently “delegitimizing” Kabul while “elevating” the Taliban during the peace talks.
The U.S. Department of State, which is responsible for overseeing the U.S. envoy that is in charge of the negotiations on Trump’s behalf, has denied these allegations. They summoned the top Afghan official, Hamdullah Mohib, to tell him “attacks on [U.S. Amb. Zalmay] Khalilzad are attacks on the department and only serve to hinder the bilateral relationship and the peace process.” Apparently, Mohib refused to apologize even though the United States is threatening to end business with him.