DOMESTIC POLITICS of
In the past,
has been governed by the domination of a particular ethnic group (the Pashtun) through alliances with powerful regional warlords and tribal leaders. Any effective national political system was destroyed by the civil war from 1992. The Taliban prevailed in 1996, but its extreme political and religious ideology and conduct prevented peace and the creation of national political institutions. Afghanistan
With the collapse of the Taliban, international concerns turned to the establishment of a new Afghan government. In November 2001 Afghan leaders from various groups met at a UN-endorsed conference at
to agree on the shape of an interim government and process to develop a constitutional government. The Bonn conference concluded on December 5, 2001, with the Bonn Agreement. Bonn
The Bonn Agreement initiated a step-by-step process to establish a democratic state.
On December 22, 2001, Hamid Karzai was sworn in as the chairman of the
Interim Administration after the successful warlords who had just defeated the
Taliban had reached a truce with each other. Karzai was the consensus candidate and was approved by the
. United States
Following an emergency Loya Jirga (national assembly) of about 1,000 delegates from across
in June 2002, a transitional administration was established. Hamid Karzai was elected president by the Loya Jirga.1 In December 2002 a constitutional loya jirga was convened in Afghanistan to ﬁnalize and ratify the new constitution. The new constitution established Kabul as a uniﬁed Islamic state based on the rule of law and a political system that is presidential in nature but with a large degree of parliamentary oversight.2 Women’s rights were enshrined, including guaranteed representation in the parliament. Afghanistan
After voter registration, presidential elections were held in October 2004.Despite fears the process might be attacked by antigovernment elements, no major security incidents occurred, and a boycott was generally ignored as 70 percent of registered voters cast their ballots.
The result was that Hamid Karzai was elected with 55 percent of the vote, signiﬁcantly ahead of his closest challengers.
Parliamentary elections for the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of the National Assembly) and provincial councils (which in turn elect a proportion of the Meshrano Jirga or Upper House of the National Assembly) were to have been held in spring 2005 but were delayed because of the unstable security situation and logistical challenges.5 An Electoral Complaints Commission was established to adjudicate on complaints and disqualify candidates with a record of human rights abuses or with links to groups that had failed to disarm. In addition, there were efforts made to educate Afghans with the voting procedures and to encourage voting. A rather rare form of electoral voting system, single nontransferable vote (SNTV), ended up being adopted.
There was little systematic violence in the September 2005 election, and 53 percent of registered voters participated. Sixty-eight women candidates were elected, a slightly higher quota than the 25 percent quota set aside for them in the parliament.
However, forces opposed to the election managed to drive down participation in some areas, especially in the South and Southeast. There were also reports of war-lords attempting to subvert the elections. A number of candidates were elected who have histories of war crimes and crimes against humanity or have links to drug trafﬁcking.
The SNTV electoral system proved to be rather complicated and resulted in fragmented blocs, often ethnically based and allied to regional and national strongmen, rather than parties with a coherent ideological platform. Ominously, the Taliban are reported to have promised $25,000 for the body of a parliamentarian, and women parliamentarians face death threats.
The election of warlords and radical Islamists highlights tension between bringing powerful local leaders into a democratic process and disarming them and ensuring that human rights abusers are brought to justice.
The U.S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann, in response to a question about how many parliamentarians included warlords and human rights abusers, stated, The Afghan parliament represents the face of modern
. It has former military commanders. It may have some with ties to drug people. It has some very liberal people in it. It has some big reformers. I mean this is the composition of Afghan society today. There is no sort of pristine group which can suddenly spring to power and you can ignore everybody else, anymore than you can ignore any large group in any country Afghanistan
The question of whether you can have peace in
is a question of whether you can bring all these different people together and bring them to a reconciliation of how to govern their country in the future. You can’t do that by leaving real political forces outside. That is a piece of, to my mind, rather silly idealism that has no foundation in the real world. Afghanistan
Bonn process has concluded, has not realized the process’s ultimate goal of ending the conﬂict and establishing peace and stability. Afghanistan
The Afghan government is extremely fragile, especially at a provincial and local level, where there is a lack of capacity and corruption and uncertain security.
An independent think-tank, the Senlis Council, in March 2006 warned that ‘‘The southern provinces are gradually shifting from a somewhat limited state control to a more fragmented control based on irregular actors such as Taliban groups.’’
With a weak capacity, the Afghan government has been forced to integrate militia leaders and former warlords into the government. However, failure to hold them accountable undermines the establishment of the rule of law. The legitimacy of the democratically elected government is then thwarted and corruption and impunity are fostered.
Many critical State institutions at both the national and provincial levels remain weak and susceptible to corruption. Efforts to reform security sector institutions have enjoyed varying degrees of success. . . . In spite of the efforts of
Afghanistan’s counter-narcotic forces, the cultivation of and trade in narcotics remain one of the greatest threats to the establishment of the rule of law and effective governance in . Afghanistan
If left unchecked, the fragile democratization and State-building achievements attained so far will be undermined.
The conclusion of the
process has resulted in the establishment of a democratically elected government and parliament. However, the Afghan government and representatives have urged continued international support. Bonn