Endless wait: on Afghanistan Presidential election
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Meanings are given in Bold
The announcement of preliminary results for the Afghanistan Presidential election is a significant step for India’s war-torn neighbour. The fourth Presidential poll since the Taliban’s fall in 2001, it consolidates ( make (something) physically stronger or more solid) the country’s democratic process in the face of odds, including continuing violence and terrorism there. According to the Independent Election Commission, President Ashraf Ghani has won 50.64% of the votes counted, which, if ratified ( sign or give formal consent to (a treaty, contract, or agreement), making it officially valid), will obviate ( avoid or prevent (something undesirable)) the need for a second round of polling.
A second round — probably only after winter — would prolong the uncertainty around the polls, given that even these results took more than three months to announce. That these polls were held was a miracle, having been delayed for months, and almost cancelled after progress in reconciliation ( the restoration of friendly relations) talks with Taliban leaders, who do not recognise the electoral process. The U.S.’s decision to cancel the talks in September — now resumed — gave the necessary breather for the September 28 polls and counting to be carried out.
But questions remain. Voter turnout was a record low, with only about a quarter of 9.6 million registered voters voting. Thousands of votes were also disqualified ((of a person) declared ineligible for an office, activity, or competition because of an offence or infringement) after biometric ( relating to or involving the application of statistical analysis to biological data) match failures and other irregularities, setting off allegations ( a claim or assertion that someone has done something illegal or wrong, typically one made without proof) of voter fraud. As a result, Afghanistan’s former Chief Executive Officer and Mr. Ghani’s chief rival, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, has rejected the preliminary results.
Mr. Ghani’s vote margin ( the edge or border of something) over Mr. Abdullah is only about 214,769, and if more votes are disqualified during the review process, the men may have to fight the second round. This will possibly be more divisive ( tending to cause disagreement or hostility between people) for Afghanistan given that Mr. Ghani, a Pashtun leader, has drawn much of his support from the Pashtun-majority south and Mr. Abdullah has won mainly in the Northern areas with Tajik presence. The U.S.-Taliban talks also cast a shadow over whether the results will be respected if the Taliban negotiates ( obtain or bring about by discussion) its way into a power-sharing arrangement in Kabul.
Setting aside the concerns ( relate to; be about), Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Mr. Ghani for winning the elections, a gesture ( a movement of part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning) which will be noted by Mr. Ghani and Vice President-elect Amrullah Saleh. Mr. Modi reaffirmed ( state again strongly) In
dia’s close and strategic partnership with Afghanistan since 2010. The move came in sharp contrast to the rest of world that has chosen to be more cautious ( (of a person) careful to avoid potential problems or dangers) at present; the U.S. Ambassador has reminded all that “many steps remain” before the final results are certified and declared, and the UN has called for all candidates to “safeguard and complete the election”. It will be in everyone’s interests, particularly the Afghans who braved ( endure or face (unpleasant conditions or behaviour) without showing fear) violent attacks to go out and vote, if the remaining steps of the electoral process are completed at the earliest, and democracy is reaffirmed in Afghanistan.