The future of Afghanistan’s unity government is “shaky,” according to a new report by the International Crisis Group.
The Brussels based NGO says Afghanistan’s New Unity Government is beset with internal disagreements and discord, while facing a revived insurgency.
The group blames the discord on what it called the “vagueness of the U.S.- [negotiated] power-sharing agreement that frames the government”. It says that has led to “widely diverging interpretations” of its powers and authority.
Then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry helped negotiate the agreement when controversy over the results of the 2014 presidential elections threatened to derail the process. Both presidential candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, claimed victory.
The September 2014 deal led to the creation of a Chief Executive Officer position, which was given to Abdullah, while Ghani became president. The CEO post was supposed to be turned into the role of prime minister within two years by a constitutional Loya Jirga or Grand Assembly.
That never happened and differences in the way supporters of Abdullah and Ghani interpreted the agreement led to infighting.
Abdullah believed the agreement gave him an equal share in government, while Ghani thought the ultimate authority rested with him. Many Afghans complained the “genuine and meaningful partnership” the agreement was supposed to generate between the two was missing from the start.
According to the International Crisis Group, both sides tried to stack civil and military posts with their supporters, mostly on ethnic grounds, with Ghani favoring Pashtuns and Abdullah favoring Tajiks.
The report says the squabbling led to delays in promised electoral reforms and parliamentary elections. It also led to a lack of leadership in addressing major challenges facing the government.
“Though the Afghan National Police is in urgent need of reform, the unity government’s leadership has yet to tackle the corruption, nepotism and factionalism within it,” the International Crisis Group noted. Senior NATO officials have also often cited lack of good leadership as one of the major reasons Afghan security forces have lost ground to the Taliban.
The ICG report says the only promising way forward is for Ghani and Abdullah to acknowledge the stability of the government and country requires they work together.
The report credits the government with some success in the economy. It says apart from maintaining macro-economic stability, the government managed to improve domestic revenues and secure donor commitments for the next several years.
Founded in 1995 The International Crisis Group says its mission is working to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world.