Illustration: Bilash Rai / Himal Southasian (December 2009)
Illustration: Bilash Rai / Himal Southasian (December 2009)

Is it over?

Afghanistan's elections went on and on, but offered more questions than answers.

"It ain't over till the fat lady sings," was the refrain of a veteran journalist, one of many who descended on Kabul like a flock of migratory birds to cover Afghanistan's 2009 presidential elections, which stretched from August through early November. It was one of several visits that this particular journalist had made in the course of those three months, marred by fraud, cover-ups, manipulations and negotiations, and the scribe had just stepped out of a press conference in which the Independent Election Commission Chairman, Azizullah Lodin, had declared the election of President Hamid Karzai. The question that begged an answer was: Who exactly was the fat lady?

Was it the Independent Election Commission (IEC)? Or the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), which has had occasion to lock horns with the IEC? The United Nations, which had an internal meltdown related to the elections? The Western countries dominating the international allies of Afghanistan – or the US alone? Or perhaps it was the main contender, Abdullah Abdullah? In fact, the proverbial fat lady has metamorphosed and mutated into various forms even as differing, and often contending, interests (within and outside Afghanistan) have shadow-boxed against the backdrop of Afghanistan's electoral exercise.

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