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Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance

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  • Title:
    Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance
  • Author: Katzman, Kenneth
  • Contributor: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
  • Subjects: GOVERNMENT(FOREIGN) ; POLITICAL SCIENCE ; ELECTIONS ; INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS ; AFGHANISTAN ; UNITED STATES ; Government and Political Science
  • Description: Descriptive note: Congressional rept..
    The performance and legitimacy of the Afghan government figured prominently in two reviews of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan during 2009 and continues to color U.S. relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. In his December 1, 2009, speech on Afghanistan, which followed the second review, President Obama stated that the Afghan government would be judged on performance, and "The days of providing a blank check are over." President Obama pressed Karzai to move more decisively to address his government's deficiencies, particularly corruption, during a March 28, 2010, visit to Afghanistan. The Obama visit may have contributed to two subsequent statements by Karzai accusing the international community of exercising undue pressure on him and on Afghanistan. These issues will likely be further discussed during Karzai's planned May 12, 2010, meeting with President Obama in Washington, DC (a visit that was nearly scuttled following Karzai's comments). The Afghan government's widespread official corruption, as well as its ineffectiveness, is identified by U.S. officials as feeding the insurgency. At the same time, Karzai's alliances with key ethnic and political faction leaders have reduced his ability to fill the government with politically neutral and technically competent officers. Despite diminished confidence in Karzai, he went into the August 20, 2009, presidential election as the favorite. Amid widespread charges of fraud, many substantiated by a U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), nearly one-third of Karzai's votes were invalidated, leaving Karzai just short of the 50%+ total needed to avoid a second-round runoff. Asserting that more fraud was likely, Karzai's main challenger dropped out of the race on November 1, 2009, and Karzai was declared the winner. He has since had difficulty obtaining parliamentary confirmation of a full cabinet, and 11 permanent ministerial posts remain unfilled. Most of the well-regarded economic ministers were confirmed.
  • Identifier: Accession Number: ADA520563 ; Report Number: CRS-RS21922
  • Creation Date: 2010

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