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Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, Kabul, Afghanistan, March, 9, 2015 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

Rivals and Power-Sharing Tensions Hamstring Afghanistan’s Ghani

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Afghan officials were expected to enter into a second round of Pakistani-brokered talks with Taliban representatives this week, a highly contentious initiative upon which President Ashraf Ghani has staked his presidency. But that peace process became more uncertain with the announcement Wednesday by the Afghan government of the death of Mullah Omar, the militant movement’s reclusive leader, which prompted a Taliban spokesman to disavow talks and Pakistan to declare their postponement. Dealing with the Taliban insurgency, however, is far from the only domestic challenge facing the Ghani administration. Unresolved domestic rivalries and newly institutionalized tensions created by last year’s power-sharing agreement have limited Ghani’s authority and ability to deliver on promised reforms.

Ghani is only the second president to lead Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban regime nearly a decade and a half ago. His predecessor, President Hamid Karzai, came to office with a narrow domestic political base and limited control over the activities of the U.S.-led international military coalition, which often bypassed the central government to partner with local strongmen seen as effective sources of security and intelligence against the Taliban. Many of those strongmen entered the formal government system after the fall of the Taliban, taking up positions within the security services or at the provincial level, siphoning off customs revenues and the benefits of the internationally fueled war and aid economy. ...

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