Harsh Words for Afghan Unity Government

Kabul leadership criticised for failing to deliver on election promises.

Harsh Words for Afghan Unity Government

Kabul leadership criticised for failing to deliver on election promises.

A year after the formation of a national unity government by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, Afghans say they are disappointed by the administration’s performance.

Ghani formed a government in September 2014 after agreeing a power-sharing deal with his rival Abdullah Abdullah, who was appointed to the new post of chief executive officer, akin to prime minister.

Both have their own constituencies to consider, and the last year has seen many key government and provincial posts filled only on an acting basis. This has had a destabilising effect on governance, according to speakers in IWPR debates organised in three Afghan provinces last month.

The leadership has not been able to deliver on promises to create jobs and rebuild the economy.

Mohammad Aman Mubarez, secretary of the provincial council for Kapisa, north of Kabul, said the current government’s performance in every sphere was worse than its predecessor’s.

“People are losing trust in this government every day,” he continued. “If it doesn’t mend its ways, the situation will get worse nationwide, and the administration may even collapse since the leaders are competing with each other and busy dividing up administrative powers.”

Hamid, an activist representing media outlets in Kapisa, accused the government of failing to deliver on its promises.

“People now realise they were deceived; even the elections were nothing but a superficial show,” he said. “The foundations of this government were built on shaky ground, and the longer it continues, the worse people’s situation will get.”

Azizurrahman Tawab, deputy governor of Kapisa province, said the Afghan people themselves must shoulder some of the responsibility for their electoral choices.

“People are incapable of identifying individuals of merit who are qualified to serve them,” he said. “However, if people work with this government, and if it too improves its performance, things might be better in four years’ time [by the next presidential election],” he said.

In Balkh province in northern Afghanistan, the divided leadership was also blamed for ongoing economic problems.

Habib, a reporter in Balkh, said that despite the politicians’ promises to boost employment, hundreds of young men were leaving the country every day to find work abroad.

“During the election campaign, each of the leading candidates came and told us that they would increase employment,” he said. “Unfortunately, not only have they failed to create job opportunities, more than 20,000 people [in Balkh] have lost their jobs.”

Ahmad Wali Sangar, an economist with the Balkh provincial government, said people were right to be disappointed with the leadership in Kabul. Shared management had made it difficult to appoint good people to senior posts, and the result was chaos across Afghanistan.

“If we were to carry out a survey, we’d find that most people aren’t satisfied,” he said. “And who is satisfied? Only those who got into the cabinet or secured high-ranking positions. They have great lives, with nice holidays and fine cars.”

Sayed Abdulshukur Najafizada, a member of a civil society association in Balkh, listed other failings – the failure to develop a peace plan to end conflict, and what he said was corruption in the projects to introduce electronic ID cards and reform the electoral system.

Comments made at a debate in Faryab, a northwestern province, reflected concerns about the performance of the security agencies.

Journalist Zabiullah Naseri claimed that officers and men of the Afghan National Army were selling off weapons to insurgent groups.

“All over Faryab, and especially in Ghormach district, the Taleban buy their ammunition from the local security forces and their commanders,” he said. “This [ammunition] ends up being used against them. If honest, patriotic people are assigned to senior posts at local and central level, and if they are given authority, I swear to God that [insurgents] won’t be able to fire a single bullet at us.”

Faryab provincial council member Amanullah Qarizada said the most important issue was the disagreement between President Ghani and Abdullah about the distribution of power.

“The government hasn’t actually been able to implement its agenda for the last year,” he said. “What’s happened is the reverse – the leaders have forgotten about the nation, and they are wrangling over control of every district-level job.”

This report is based on an ongoing series of debates conducted as part of IWPR’s Afghan Youth and Elections programme.

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