President Ashraf Ghani and political rival Abdullah Abdullah signed a power-sharing agreement on Sunday, nearly two months after both declared themselves the winner of last September’s presidential elections.
The political agreement confirms Ghani as president and authorizes Abdullah to lead the newly established National Reconciliation High Council. The two also split authority 50-50 over cabinet appointments and divided other responsibilities as well.
The political agreement between the two leaders broke the political deadlock and was welcomed by the international community as well as by many Afghan leaders in Kabul.
The agreement laid down a set of principles for undertaking reform in Afghanistan’s electoral system in order to avert a future election crisis, proposing constitutional amendments to bring change to the political system of the country.
The reform section in the agreement states the following actions to be taken:
. Facilitating provincial councils and district councils’ elections for the timely completion of the pillars of the Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly).
• Appointing a delegation to draft and amend the constitution to make changes to the system for holding district councils’ elections.
• Electoral reforms, including legal, technical and cadre reforms--which include the biometric system--should start at the earliest time. These reforms are aimed at change in the electoral system while considering discussions on the MDR system or other options, in agreement with elites and the Constitution.
• Amendment of the law on political parties for electoral reforms.
• New institutions and local government structures to be established based on the people’s demand to ease administrative affairs.
Monitoring and Implementation Mechanism:
• Based on the agreement, a monitoring and mediator delegation consisting of five national and political elders will be established. Based on this agreement, the "intermediator delegation" is given the authority to prevent violations of the agreement.
• A joint technical team with the same number from both sides will be established to recognize violations of the agreement.
• In case of a violation of the agreement, the technical team will try to prevent it "through understanding." If the efforts of the joint technical team do not succeed, a representative of the side that has been affected by the violation passes on the matter officially to the intermediator team.
• The decision of the monitoring and mediation team on a conflicting matter is reported to the president and the head of the High Council of National Reconciliation.
There are some perceptions that the political agreement between the two leaders is similar to the National Unity Government (NUG) agreement the two signed in the aftermath of the election crisis in 2014.
In answer to questions about delays in implementing measures of the agreement, Abdullah's team responded:
“We got busy with some other issues. Until now, no provision of the political agreement has been put into practice,” said Assadullah Saadati, the deputy of Abdullah Abdullah.
“They (Ghani and Abdullah) themselves became a factor in the election failure. First they need to come and respond to this and then talk about electoral reforms,” said Yousuf Rashid, the CEO of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan.
“There is a possibility that the political agreement has shortcomings when it comes to accountability and governance,” said Fawzia Kofi, a former member of the Afghan parliament.