Election Chaos in Afghanistan: Karzai's Fraudulent Victory Will Plague Obama
With the withdrawal of his sole challenger, Hamid Karzai has now won a second term as president of Afghanistan. But for the West, working together with the Afghan government will only get harder. US President Barack Obama will have to explain why he wants to support an undemocratically elected leader by sending more troops. The debate in Germany is also likely to heat up.
A run-off election with only one candidate? That would be too absurd even for unstable Afghanistan. From Kunduz in the north to Kandahar in the south, 15 million ballots were to be distributed, filled out and counted in the coming days. Of course, the results would already have been a foregone conclusion, with Hamid Karzai as the only remaining candidate in the poll, which was planned for Saturday. In the end, the election commission on Monday moved to cancel the election and declared Karzai president.
Karzai's only challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew from the run-off vote at the weekend. He claimed that the election fraud in favor of Karzai was so well organized that he had virtually no chance of winning. Karzai, who originally became Afghanistan's leader with the help of strong support from the West, which saw him as the "good Afghan," will now steer the war-torn country's fortunes for the next five years.
But the election drama, the massive fraud during the first round of voting, Karzai's obstinateness and his recognizably undemocratic aura are all adding up to a massive problem for the West. Leaders in the West may stress that Afghanistan's new president must have democratic legitimacy -- but they all know that Karzai doesn't have it.
A Problem Instead of a Partner
The Afghan president is becoming an especially serious problem for the US. After the fiasco in the Afghan election -- Karzai's stubborn insistence on standing by the fraudulent results -- and Abdullah's withdrawal, how is President Barack Obama supposed to explain to his people that he now wants to send more troops to Afghanistan to support precisely this government? "It won't be easy," the New York Times comments dryly in its own analysis.
The mood of the US public is becoming more and more critical for Obama. Washington has already spent close to a quarter-trillion dollars in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, all the news coming out of the crisis region these days seems to be bad. In October, more US soldiers died in the Hindu Kush than in any previous month -- an alarming signal for the home front. "We aren't in the position we wanted to be in after six months," one Obama adviser said, not mincing words about the situation.
- Part 1: Karzai's Fraudulent Victory Will Plague Obama
- Part 2: Thousands of Soldiers for an Undemocratic Regime?
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