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Uncertainty in Afghanistan election

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Afghanistan confront a presidential election next month but few think the vote will take place as the United States and the Taliban come closer to a deal that could finish the almost 18-year war. 18 candidates are racing for the country’s top job. They all have frankly campaigned after the Taliban last week attacked the office of President Ashraf Ghani’s running mate on opening day of the campaign, killing at least 20 people. The Taliban declared the election and warned Afghans to stay away from campaign gatherings as they could be targeted. A day later, a Taliban car bomb aimed at Afghan security forces ruptured through a Kabul neighborhood, killing 14 people and injuring 145 which were most of them women, children and other civilians. The developments came even as the Taliban and a US envoy assigned with finding a peaceful resolution to the war in Afghanistan. US reported progress on negotiations in Qatar on an agreement for the withdrawal of some 20,000 US and NATO troops, along with Taliban assurance that Afghanistan would not be a base for other radical groups. The Taliban spokesman in Qatar said that he anticipates an agreement at the end of this round of talks. The deal would comprise cease-fire and Taliban negotiations with other Afghan representatives.
It was not evident whether the Taliban would agree to talk to Kabul government members in their official power or only as common Afghans, as in the past. President Donald Trump and the Qatari leader, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, spoke by phone about developments in the talks. US and Taliban lead negotiators have been traveling in recent days to brief several countries involved in the process on the latest developments. So far, the Taliban has refused to negotiate with the government, discarding it as a US puppet. No one knows whether the thousands of Taliban fighters across Afghanistan will respect whatever deal is made. US-Taliban peace agreement might postpone the September 28 election, especially as Khalilzad has proposed that the vote could hamper peace efforts. The September 1st target date for a peace deal could be connected to Ghani’s willingness on holding the vote next month. Many Afghans forecast that the election would be postponed. Once there is a deal with the Taliban, a temporary government would take over. Then the Taliban would enter a presidential candidate of their own. Others say that a provisional government likely would be established, affirming that the current one has no ability to hold a straightforward vote or guarantee permanent peace. The suspicion has downhearted any election enthusiasm that remained after both the 2014 presidential vote and past year’s parliamentary polls were defamed by accusation of inefficiency and corruption.
The presidential election has been delayed for several months over security and bureaucratic concerns. Ghani in February expelled the whole Independent Electoral Commission over the disordered 2018 parliamentary vote, which was held after a three-year delay. An influential observer, the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan, mentioned 57 percent of about 5,000 people it investigated in the country’s 34 provinces asserted that they were not desiring to take part in the election. Another observer group, the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan, remained optimistic, stating that holding the election is the only way to tackle those issues. Ghani angered by the Taliban’s disallowable to negotiate with his government is a strange candidate campaigning openly in spite the Taliban threats. Khalilzad said that the eighth round of talks between US and Taliban negotiators in the Qatari capital, Doha, focused on the left out issues in completing a call deal with the Taliban that would allow for circumstances based troop withdrawal. NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated on August 6 that there was a true possibility of peace in Afghanistan than ever before. The US envoy stated that he will travel to New Delhi later in the day for pre-scheduled meetings to further establish international unanimity in support of the Afghan peace process. He also said that his team will continue to discuss with Taliban representatives technical information as well as ways and devices needed for a prosperous execution of the four-part agreement the sides have been working toward since his appointment last year.
Understanding on these details is vital. A two-sided US -Taliban agreement would include the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in share for assurances by the Taliban not to provide safe haven for terrorist groups. Similar deal would be accompanied by within Afghan peace negotiations on a political agreement and a continuous cease-fire. The Taliban has asserted it will only mediate with the US – supported Afghanistan government when US engages to withdrawing its troops.