The International Crisis Group has said that the national unity government in Afghanistan is facing shaky future.
The group in a report published Monday said that NUG is beset with international disagreements and discord and facing stepped up insurgency.
It warned that if political and constitutional tensions are left unresolved, they would increase the risk of internal conflict and insecurity in an “already fragile” state.
The report comes two and a half years after Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah formed a unity government after a bitterly contested election, with the former becoming president and the latter Chief Executive.
It said that their disagreement is rooted in the vagueness of the U.S.-brokered power-sharing deal and the widely diverging interpretations of their powers and authority.
“Abdullah believes the agreement gave him an equal share in government; Ghani and his advisers insist that ultimate power, as defined in the constitution, resides in the presidency,” ICG said.
The report suggested that both sides are making appointments to senior civil and military posts on ethnic grounds, with Ghani favoring fellow Pashtuns and Abdullah fellow Tajiks.
ICG however cited progress in the area of stabilizing economy, including fiscal reforms and tighter control over tax collection which it said increased domestic revenues.
Referring to corruption, the report said that efforts to counter it are strongly resisted by resilient networks within and ouside government.
In the unity government deal, Ghani and Abdullah agreed to hold a Loya Jirga within two years to formalize the CE’s position.
However, ICG said that that cannot be held due to postponement of parliamentary and district council elections.
According to the report, former President Hamid Karzai and his allies are among those seeking to end political impasse including call for early elections or Loya Jirga to determine a future governing agreement. “Ghani mistrusts Karzai, while Abdullah is unwilling to risk losing his CEO position; neither wants to cut the NUG’s five-year tenure short.”
Referring to Ghani’s negotiations with Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Noor who supported Abdullah in elections, the report said that even if Atta and other Jamiat leaders were to join Ghani’s government, the result could be more disgruntlement and internal discord as president is unlikely to accept their demands.
According to the crisis group, international financial and military support to Afghanistan is important for forestalling militants’ advances, but “the country’s stability ultimately depends on Ghani and Abdullah resolving their differences.
It urged the unity government leaders to end hostile public rhetoric and negotiations aimed at undermining each other’s power and authority, consult more closely with parliament, consult with ethnic communities excluded or under-represented in government, announce schedule for parliamentary and district councils elections with a firm date for 2019 presidential election and reform the system before any future vote.
The group also called for an end to partisan-based appointments in the government as it urged appointment of competent professional officers to strengthen the Afghan forces.
Reached for comment over the report, Dawa Khan Minapal, President Ghani’s deputy spokesman, said: “When long-term cooperation pledges were made during Warsaw and Brussels conferences, it means that the future is guaranteed.”