Presidential elections will be held across Afghanistan today.
Incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and his chief rival, the country’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, are the frontrunners. Following an outbreak of violence over disputed election results in 2014, the two entered into a power-sharing agreement—a deal that Ghani says he will not agree to again.
Due to security concerns, only a third of polling stations will open today. Twenty-six people were killed this week by the Taliban at a campaign rally in Parwan. The uptick in violence comes three weeks after US President Donald Trump declared peace talks with the Taliban ‘dead’. The Afghan government was absent from those negotiations, even when a final text was declared ‘close’ to fruition last month—Kabul needs this election to exemplify a legitimate democratic process that can counter the Taliban’s influence.
With neither candidate expected to gain a majority of the vote today, expect a run-off election on November 23. Acts of election violence and intimidation from the Taliban are likely, as are allegations of election fraud. Ultimately, this election could detract from Kabul’s negotiating leverage with the US if it is marred by violence.
Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.
Saira is an analyst in the Current Developments team, where she focuses her research on the Middle East and North Africa region.