Afghan elections: One year on and still no government

By David Loyn
BBC News, Kabul

  • Published
Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on 24 March, 2015Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
President Ghani (R) has been sharing power with Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah

Afghanistan still does not have a full government a year after the presidential election.

On 5 April 2014 voters went to the polls in a carnival atmosphere, despite heavy rain. But more than two-thirds of cabinet posts are still unfilled.

The decision by President Ghani to suspend all provincial governors and police chiefs has led to the further stagnation of government across the country.

The reformist governor of Nangarhar province in the east has resigned from the post because he was left without the power he needed to do his job.

Nangarhar is in a crucial location, both in terms of security as well as revenue-raising, as it is the gateway to Afghanistan from the Khyber Pass in the east.

'Criminal mafia'

Its provincial capital, Jalalabad, has been facing increasing attacks from the Taliban and other insurgents in recent months.

At a public meeting, a number of elders signed a letter urging the governor, Mullah Ata Ullah Ludin, not to stand down. One said that he was the only person taking on the "criminal mafia".

Mr Ludin's departure leaves this important province leaderless. He finally insisted he had to step down because he could not make the decisions he wanted.

His "acting" status meant he was prevented from appointing new teachers, and an order he gave to close a border weighing station was overturned.

He had made the decision because trucks were constantly leaving far heavier than had been weighed - and must have paid a bribe for the difference.

Apart from the lost revenues, the heavy trucks were damaging the region's roads. He said that if the situation of acting governors and police chiefs was not resolved soon, then the country would "slide towards instability; people will lose faith in the government and corruption will increase".

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The election was the third presidential poll since the fall of the Taliban
Image source, AP
Image caption,
The continued absence of a full administration is causing frustration within Afghanistan

It's the same story in the province of Herat, the gateway to Iran, at the western end of Afghanistan's most important trade route.

Stagnation here following the suspension from office of most senior officials has provoked the former governor Ismail Khan to actively campaign against President Ghani's government.

Khan was a prominent commander in the jihadi war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. He and other ex-jihadi commanders say they are locked out of government, and are a formidable opposition to the technocratic moderniser who is now president.

But President Ghani is also losing support among those who previously backed him.

Too many chiefs

MPs like Helai Ershad say that far from establishing a reformist government, he has had to make alliances with men she described as "a bunch of mujahidin".

She said that the problems began when the international community persuaded Ghani to share power with Abdullah Abdullah, the opponent he narrowly defeated in a contested election.

Since both men have two deputies, there are six separate powerbases to satisfy in making appointments.

"Two different mentalities, how can they work under the same umbrella?," she asked.

Since there are no political parties in Afghanistan, a country where patronage is the main driver of power, the jockeying for position has gone on.

Ms Ershad believes that only 10 of the more than 20 ministers still to be confirmed by parliament will be approved this time round.

And the issue of appointing substantive provincial governors and police chiefs has still to be addressed.