2014 Afghan presidential election

Presidential elections were held in Afghanistan on 5 April 2014, with a second round held on 14 June. Incumbent President Hamid Karzai was not eligible to run due to term limits. The registration period for presidential nominations was open from 16 September 2013 until 6 October 2013.[1] A total of 27 candidates were confirmed to be running for office.[2] However, on 22 October Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission disqualified 16 of the candidates, leaving only 11 in the race.[3] By April 2014 three candidates gave up the race and decided to support some of the eight remaining candidates. Opinion polls showed Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani as the front-runners[4] and indeed the results of the first round of the election had Abdullah in the lead and Ghani behind him. The second set of results came after the run-off on 14 June, two months after the first round. Preliminary results were expected on 2 July and the final result on 22 July. However, widespread accusations of fraud delayed these results.[5] As a result, John Kerry, then United States Secretary of State, mediated the negotiations between the two final candidates, Ghani and Abdullah.[6] After a series of negotiations and talks between Ghani, Abdullah and Kerry, the two candidates agreed to sign an Agreement to form a National Unity Government[7] based on 50–50 power sharing. As a result of that political agreement, a separate position was created for Abdullah as Chief Executive.[8] The National Unity Government's term ran out after the next Afghan presidential election was held in September 2019.[9]

2014 Afghan presidential election

← 2009 5 April 2014 (first round)
14 June 2014 (second round)
2019 →
Nominee Ashraf Ghani Abdullah Abdullah
Party Independent National Coalition
Running mate Abdul Rashid Dostum
Sarwar Danish
Mohammad Khan
Mohammad Mohaqiq
Popular vote 3,935,567 3,185,018
Percentage 55.27% 44.73%

Results by province

President before election

Hamid Karzai

Elected President

Ashraf Ghani

The election was the first time (and, so far, the only time) in Afghanistan's history that power was democratically transferred.[10][11][12][13]

Procedure Edit

On 17 July 2013, the Parliament of Afghanistan passed a pair of election laws considered crucial to holding the election on time; President Karzai signed one and was expected to sign the other quickly. The first law to be signed laid out the composition and rules for Afghanistan's election commission and a separate commission to adjudicate complaints about voter fraud and other irregularities. The other one governed how the vote will be held.[14]

Pakistan sealed its border with Afghanistan during the electoral period in order to reduce the chances of cross-border attacks.[15]

There have been reports of polling sites running out of ballot papers due to a high turnout.[16]

Candidates Edit

A total of 27 candidates were confirmed to have submitted their nominations by Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission on 6 October 2013, the closing day of the nomination period.[2][17]

However, on 22 October Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission disqualified 16 of the candidates, leaving only 11 in the race.[3] The different candidates were disqualified for a number of reasons, among them were education levels, documentation and the number of required signatures. The disqualified candidates had 20 days to appeal the decision and the Independent Election Commission was due to present the final list of confirmed candidates on 19 November 2013.[3]

On 25 November 2013, the Independent Election Commission announced the ordering of the candidate names for the election ballot as follows:[23]

Candidate Running mate Coalition Occupation Political spectrum
Abdullah Abdullah
National Coalition
Mohammad Khan
Hezbi Islami
Mohammad Mohaqiq
Hizb-e Wahdat Islami Mardum-e Afghanistan
"National Coalition of Afghanistan"
(National Front, Jamiat-e Islami, NUPA)

Supported by
(Hezbi Islami, Hizb-e Wahdat Islami Mardum-e Afghanistan, Yunus Qanuni, Atta Muhammad Nur[24])

Politician. Former Foreign Minister. Islamic democracy, Reform
Ashraf Ghani
Abdul Rashid Dostum
National Islamic Movement
Sarwar Danish
Hizb-e Wahdat Islami Afghanistan
Supported by
(National Solidarity Party of Afghanistan, Afghan Mellat, National Islamic Front, Sayed Mansoor Naderi, Milli Nijat Party),[25][26])
Politician. Former Finance Minister. Reform
Zalmai Rassoul
Ahmad Zia Massoud
Jamiat-e Islami
Habiba Sarobi
Truth and Justice
Supported by
(Qayum Karzai, Abdul Rahim Wardak, Sardar Mohammad Nadir Naeem, Hezb-e-Islami Shura Alliance,[28] Hezbi Islami of Waheedullah Sabaoon[29])
Politician. Former Foreign Minister. Centrism
Abdul Rasul Sayyaf
Islamic Dawa
Mohammad Ismail Khan
Jamiat-e Islami
Abdul Wahab Urfan Erfan
Politician. Wahhabi Islamism
Gul Agha Sherzai
Sayed Hussain Alimi Balkhi
Mohammad Hashim Zare
Politician. Former Governor of Nangarhar.
Qutbuddin Hilal
Enayatullah Enayat
Mohammad Ali Nabizada
Supported by
(Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin[30])
Politician. Former Deputy Prime Minister. Former member of Hezbi Islami. Conservative Islamism
FischerMohammad Daud Sultanzoy
Ahmad Saeedi
Kazima Mohaqiq
Hidayat Amin Arsala
Gen. Khudaidad
Safia Seddiqi
Politician, Economist, Former Finance and Foreign Minister.
Withdrawn Candidates
FischerQayum Karzai
Wahidullah Shahrani
Ibrahim Qasmi
Withdrew and supported Rassoul Politician & Businessman. Reform
Abdul Rahim Wardak
Shah Abdul Ahad Afzali
Sayed Hussein Anwari
Islamic Movement
Withdrew and supported Rassoul[29] Politician. Former Minister of Defence.
FischerSardar Mohammad Nadir Naeem
Taj Mohammad Akbar
Azizullah Puya
Withdrew and supported Rassoul[32] Secretary to former King of Afghanistan.

Declined to run Edit

Campaign Edit

On 6 March 2014 Qayum Karzai ended his bid for the presidency, and instead announced his support for Zalmai Rassoul. Due to the lateness of his announcement Karzai's name still appeared on the ballot paper; however, Karzai told supporters to vote for Rassoul instead. Two other candidates – Sardar Mohammad Nadir Naeem and Abdul Rahim Wardak – did the same thing to create a strong Pashtun ticket.[36]

Debates Edit

Afghanistan's TOLOnews hosted several debates between the presidential candidates.

First debate Edit

The first debate took place on 4 February 2014 and included five candidates: Abdullah Abdullah, Qayoum Karzai, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Zalmai Rassoul, and Abdul Rahmi Wardak. The debate focused on the issues of security, the economy, and corruption.[37][38]

Second debate Edit

The second debate took place on 18 February 2014 and included four candidates: Daoud Sultanzoy, Mohammad Nader Naeem, Hedayat Amin Arsala, and Qotbuddin Helal. As with the first debate, the second debate focused on the issues of security, the economy, and corruption.

On the issue of security Arsala emphasised the need for better cooperation between the various Afghan security agencies. Sultanzoy focused on the issue of a lack of motivation and high desertions in the Afghan security forces. Naeem emphasised the need to combat insecurity by providing better services.

On the issue of peace negotiations with the Taliban Naeem argued that certain parts of the Taliban want peace and could be compromised with. Sultanzoy argued that the Taliban was a tool of foreign intelligence agencies, and that in order to marginalize the Taliban the Afghan people needed to unite behind a unifying goal. Hilal argued that the Taliban was a diverse group, with certain members being driven by poverty, whilst others were "agents of intelligence agencies." Hilal argued that the former parts could and should be negotiated with. Arsala argued that if the Taliban embraced politics, instead of violence, that they could be given a "chair in the cabinet."

Sultanzoy also argued that corruption was resulting in poverty, and that increases in pensions and salaries could be afforded through a reduction in corruption. Arsala also focused on the issue of corruption, arguing that "government administration overall must be reformed." Hilal advocated reducing corruption through a mixture of better policing and the digitizing of government records. Naeem argued that corruption was a major issue for the Afghan bureaucracy, and had increased over the past 12 years. He argued that as an issue it must be dealt with from the top down.

Hilal also argued that whilst women should be educated and involved in society, this should be done "within the limits of Sharia." Naeem argued that Afghan constitution and Afghan democracy had been achieved in a way in line with Islam. Sultanzoy argued that Afghanistan had made great sacrifices for democracy, and that equal rights under the law must be ensured. Arsala advocated an "independent, developed and Muslim Afghanistan."[39]

Third debate Edit

The third debate took place on 4 March 2014 and included three candidates: Abdullah Abdullah, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, and Zalmai Rassoul. The debate focused on foreign policy. On the issue of the Durand Line, both Rassoul and Abdullah argued that the Afghan government alone cannot decide on the issue of the Durand Line, but that instead policy must be set according to the will of the people. Ahmadzai however argued that the issue of the Durand Line cannot be discussed if the conditions are not right.

All three candidates expressed their support for the Bilateral Security Agreement. On the subject of the zero-option, whereby the United States would fully pull out of Afghanistan, Rassoul argued that Afghanistan would still be in a position to accept international aid. Ahmadzai argued against the zero-option, stating that Afghan remained dangerous, but that Afghanistan would likely be stable by the end of the decade. Abdullah attacked Karzai's opposition to the zero-option, claiming that the danger of a zero-option had been caused by Karzai's "unbalanced and emotional decisions."

All three candidates accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban. Abdullah claimed that Pakistan used the Taliban "as a tool for foreign policy." Rassoul argued that when discussing the issue a distinction had to be made between the Pakistani government and the Pakistani people, and that the Pakistani people "have been friends to the people of Afghanistan." Ahmadzai argued that extremism posed a threat to both countries, but that Afghan sovereignty had to be maintained, and that the Afghan government had to prevent Pakistan from destabilizing Afghanistan through proxies.[40]

Opinion polls Edit

The 2014 election was the first election in Afghanistan to make use of opinion polling. A December 2013 poll by Glevum was the first of nine planned polls funded by the United States. The polls were to be conducted by three different companies, with the United States paying for them due to Afghan institutions lacking the ability and funding to conduct the polling themselves.[41] Following the publication of a subsequent Democracy Institute poll some Afghan electoral authorities and candidate supporters alleged the polling had been biased. As response the United States cancelled funding for any further polling in order to avoid any perception of bias.[42]

Poll source Date(s) administered Sample size Abdullah Abdullah
National Coalition
Mohammad Daud Sultanzoy
Abdul Rahim Wardak
Qayum Karzai
Ashraf Ghani
Sardar Mohammad Nadir Naeem
Zalmai Rassoul
Qutbuddin Hilal
Gul Agha Sherzai
Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf
Islamic Dawa
Hidayat Amin Arsala
None Lead
Glevum[41][43] December, 2013 2,148 25% 1% 5% 8% 29% 1% 6% 2% 4% 6% <0.5% 11% 4
Democracy International[41][44] December, 2013 2,500 31% 13% 25% - 10% 6
ATR Consulting / Tolo News [45] 11–21 December 2013 2,063 27% 0.4% 4% 19% 0.1% 7% 8
ATR Consulting / Tolo News [46] 8–12 October 2013 1,300 21% 0.8% 5.7% 13.6% 0.9% 1.1% 3.4% 50% 7.4
Election Results 20 Aug 2009 4,597,727 30.59% - - 2.94% 0.05%
Election Results 5 April 2014 6,604,546 45.00% 0.46% - 31.56% 11.37% 2.75% 1.57% 7.04% 0.23%

Conduct Edit

Security concerns Edit

Voters queuing up in front of a polling center in Kabul during the 2014 presidential election.

On 7 April 2014, a roadside bomb was detonated in the Maywand District when a van drove over it, killing all 13 people on board. Some suspected the Taliban were responsible, though the group blamed international forces for the attack.[47] The 2014 presidential elections is the first year Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have taken the lead for such an event.[48]

Voters queuing up in front of a polling center in western Herat province.

On 6 June 2014, candidate Abdullah Abdullah narrowly survived an assassination attempt. In the attack, suicide bombers targeted his armored car, severely damaging the vehicle and killed three of his bodyguards as well as three bystanders. Abdullah escaped largely unscathed, strongly condemning the attack while commenting, "the best response to this conspiracy is to go to vote on election day." No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though the Taliban has previously threatened to violently disrupt the electoral process.[49][50]

On July 1, 2014, Afghan security forces seized weapons, ammunitions and explosives and killed around 27 Taliban during operations in Kunar, Kunduz, Badakhshan, Balkh, Zabul and Helmand provinces.[51] The next day, a suicide bomber riding a bicycle targeted a vehicle of the Afghan National Army (ANA) at around 6.30 a.m. in which 14 people, including civilians were killed.[52]

The Afghan Intelligence – National Directorate of Security (NDS) Chief, Rahmatulllah Nabil accused Pakistan's ISI and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of escalating clashes in the Helmand Province.[53] The Taliban is said to have gathered hundreds of fighters in a bid of overtaking this region, amidst the U.S. withdrawal, which will be completed by December 2014.[54]

Allegations of fraud Edit

In July, certain allegations regarding fraudulent practices in the voting process emerged. The European Union sent 6 observers in Kabul, Balkh and Herat provinces. Thijs Berman, head of the EU election assessment team, called for an in-depth review of the electoral fraud claims and said that necessary steps would be taken to clean it.[55] Abudullah accused President Hamid Karzai of conspiring in the rigging of the elections.[56]

The NDS recorded Ziaul Haq Amarkhel, the secretary of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission, telling local officials to "take sheep to the mountains, stuff them, and bring them back," in an apparent reference to ballot stuffing. In total, Nabil informed Karzai that NDS had intercepted approximately 5,000 communications with indicia of electoral fraud. Some of this evidence was leaked to Abdullah by an NDS officer.[57] Steve Coll recounts: "Ghani's surge of votes in the second round from Pashtun areas racked by violence was inherently suspect. Some analysts guessed that if all the fraud could be identified accurately, Abdullah would have won the election, but not every international analyst agreed."[58]

Results Edit

The preliminary results were announced on 26 April and were finalised on 15 May. About 12 million Afghans were registered to vote in the country and about 8 million members of Afghan diaspora were also eligible to vote.[59] Nearly two-thirds of the Afghan population were under the age of 25.[60]

No candidate secured more than the 50% of the vote, so there was a second round run-off on 14 June.[16] Preliminary results for the second round were due on 2 July, but were delayed to 7 July.[61] When they were announced, Ashraf Ghani had won with 56.4% of the vote.

Due to allegations of widespread fraud, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced on 12 July that all ballots would be audited under UN supervision. Following the recount, the number of valid votes had dropped from 7,972,727 in the preliminary results to 7,120,585 in the final results.[62][63] The final results also showed that Ghani's vote share had decreased to 55.3%.[63]

CandidatePartyFirst roundSecond round
Abdullah AbdullahNational Coalition2,972,14145.003,185,01844.73
Ashraf GhaniIndependent2,084,54731.563,935,56755.27
Zalmai RassoulIndependent750,99711.37
Abdul Rasul SayyafIslamic Dawah Organisation465,2077.04
Qutbuddin HilalIndependent181,8272.75
Gul Agha SherzaiIndependent103,6361.57
Mohammad Daud SultanzoyIndependent30,6850.46
Hedayat Amin ArsalaIndependent15,5060.23
Valid votes6,604,54694.11
Invalid/blank votes413,5035.89
Total votes7,018,049100.00
Registered voters/turnout20,845,98833.6720,845,988

By province Edit

Map showing the results achieved by Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani in the first round.
Province Abdullah Abdullah Ashraf Ghani
Votes % Votes %
Kabul 389,584 49.62 248,220 31.62
Kapisa 52,544 78.81 2,745 4.12
Parwan 107,478 71.80 8,395 5.61
Wardak 36,253 36.37 15,064 15.11
Logar 6,169 18.65 20,953 63.35
Ghazni 194,264 54.01 68,328 19.00
Paktika 19,097 10.55 118,089 65.21
Paktia 13,610 5.37 157,826 62.32
Khost 4,040 3.57 83,691 74.01
Nangarhar 63,689 19.00 200,409 59.80
Kunar 13,257 12.35 69,545 64.76
Laghman 8,495 10.4 40,673 49.82
Nuristan 23,234 37.64 9,001 14.58
Badakhshan 191,260 64.85 42,548 14.43
Takhar 159,375 50.35 121,100 38.25
Baghlan 152,560 60.14 51,953 20.48
Kunduz 100,413 47.05 80,893 37.91
Samangan 86,845 61.33 37,632 26.58
Balkh 238,582 60.92 109,694 28.01
Jowzjan 29,375 19.94 101,985 69.23
Sar-i-Pul 74,711 50.41 57,097 38.53
Faryab 77,633 29.31 173,225 65.39
Badghis 86,620 67.52 12,577 9.8
Herat 301,364 61.15 54,618 11.08
Farah 18,029 31.78 22,708 40.03
Nimroz 9,674 20.88 15,562 33.59
Helmand 17,905 17.29 34,110 32.94
Kandahar 26,500 10.61 34,698 13.9
Zabul 3,856 18.93 7,782 38.19
Urozgan 5,317 23.8 6,022 26.95
Ghor 180,446 59.51 39,698 13.09
Bamyan 113,324 67.93 18,427 11.05
Panjshir 37,925 87.29 166 0.38
Daikundi 128,713 75.05 19113 11.14
Total 2,972,141 45.00 2,084,547 31.56
Source: Mutazilah IEC

Conclusion Edit

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits with Afghan presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah, left, and Ashraf Ghani, right, at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 12, 2014, after he helped broker an agreement on a technical and political plan to resolve the disputed outcome of the election between them.

On 24 August President Karzai met with the two candidates, and told them they should rapidly conclude the audit process. The inauguration ceremony was set for 2 September 2014, one month after it was scheduled by the UN. He also said that the inability of the candidates to compromise on the results had led to Afghanistan deteriorating.[64] Although Karzai had insisted he would step down on 2 September, he remained in office due to security concerns.[65] The results of the election remained in dispute, despite a proposal by the United States that the candidates agree to a power-sharing deal, which was initially agreed to. A UN-led audit failed to sway Abdullah as he insisted the audit team could not explain a million extra votes counted in the run-off. Ghani supporters insisted they wanted to do a deal and were leaving the door open to negotiations[66]

On 19 September the Independent Election Commission announced Ghani as the winner.[67] Five hours later, Abdullah and Ghani signed a power-sharing agreement, with Ghani being named president and Abdullah taking on an important position in the government; the deal was signed in front of the presidential palace, with incumbent president Hamid Karzai in attendance.[67] Part of the deal stipulated that the Independent Election Commission would not release the exact vote totals of the second round of voting.[67]

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External links Edit

  Media related to Afghan presidential election, 2014 at Wikimedia Commons