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Election crisis: Abdullah appoints governors, Ghani prepares for oath

23 Feb 2020 Kabul Now

Final announcement of the 2019 presidential results have created a serious political tension which has further complicated the future of new Afghan government. After the Afghan election authorities declared the incumbent president Ashraf Ghani as winner, his main rival Abdullah Abdullah, challenged the final results and publicly announced that he would form his ‘inclusive’ parallel government.          

Mr. Abdullah, who has been backed by powerful politicians, appointed Mohammad Noor Rahmani as governor of the northern Sar-e-Pul province on Saturday, February 22, and Enayat Khan Habibi—a close figure to Abdullah’s staunch supporter Mohammad Mohaqiq—as deputy governor.

Talking to Kabul Now, Feraidoon Khawazoon, spokesperson for Abdullah’s ticket, said the governor was appointed following an official decree issued by Chief Executive of the National Unity Government (NUG), Abdullah.

Kamaluddin Nezami, the incumbent governor of Panjshir province, also declared his loyalty to the inclusive government led by Abdullah. Based on accounts made by Afghan social media users, supporters of the stability and partnership ticket has dragged down President Ghani’s portrait from wall of the provincial office building in Panjshir.

Mr. Khawazoon said that Abdullah’s ticket will appoint six to seven more governors along with their deputies in coming days. “The oath ceremony will be launched and Dr. Abdullah will start his work as president in near future,” he said.

Abdulhai Hayat, Abdullah’s campaign chief in the northern Jowzjan province, was appointed as Jowzjan governor in public gathering held in the city. Speaking at the introductory ceremony held today, February 23, spokesperson for National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan led by Abdul Rashid Dostum – a staunch supporter of Abdullah, Bashir Ahmad Tahyanj said that Mr. Hayat was appointed as governor in accordance with the decree issued by Abdullah.

“The election final results are rigged and invalid. Chief executive of the national unity government (NUG) Abdullah has the authority to appoint new governors and take the oath of presidency on basis of transparent and biometrically verified votes,” he argued.

Reacting to Abdullah’s move in Sar-e-Pul province, the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) warns that whoever resorted to disrupt public order will be prosecuted by the justice and judicial organs.

Ghani to take oath this week

This comes while the incumbent president Ashraf Ghani has ordered assigning a high level committee to arrange president’s oath ceremony within five days, according to a decree issued by Ghani on Saturday, February 22.

The committee is jointly chaired by head of the IDLG and chief of Parwan Provincial Council and six other high level government officials, including acting minister of foreign affairs Mohammad Haroon Chakhansoori.

UNAMA expresses concern

Following the appointment of governors by Abdullah, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) expressed grave concerns over what it described as ‘forceful attempts’ to replace government officials.

“Resorting to force or any other unlawful means at the very time that efforts are ongoing to realize a reduction in violence – with the expectation that it can lead to the start of an intra-Afghan negotiations on peace – jeopardizes the population’s hope for peace,” the statement reads.

It further called on all parties – Abdullah’s and Ghani – to exercise restraint and address their grievances through dialogue and respect for constitutional order.

In reaction to UNAMA statement, Mr. Khwazoon said that the new governors are to be introduced upon people’s demands and their plans, not by force.

On the other hand, in a meeting held on Friday, February 21, former President Hamid Karzai, Chief Executive Abdullah, Karim Khalili, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Batur Dostum, and Salahuddin Rabbani also insisted on formation of an ‘inclusive’ government.

Most world leaders remain silent

Most of the world leaders, international organizations, and most importantly many of Afghanistan international partners, have remained either silent or expressed a very cautious stance over the result of the country’s 4th presidential elections and Ghani’s disputed victory.

Nearly two days after Ashraf Ghani was declared as winner of the presidential election, European Union and India congratulated him, but the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) issued a cautiously written statement, expressing readiness to work with the future administration.

“The European Union looks forward to continuing the work with the new administration under President Ghani,” a statement issued by EU late last night, February 19, reads. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrel, welcomed Ghani’s commitment to form an inclusive government, the statement said.

Hours later, UNAMA also said in a statement that it stands ready to welcome and work with the future administration. The UN mission, however, did not congratulate neither for Ghani’s disputed victory, nor for completion of the election process.

India has also congratulated Ashraf Ghani on his re-election. “We congratulate President Dr. Ashraf Ghani on his re-election following the announcement of final results of the Presidential elections by the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan,” a statement issued by Indian foreign ministry said.

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