2014 marked by peaceful transfer of power in Afghanistan
Updated: 2014-12-18 10:26
KABUL -- Afghanistan has overcome the worst political crisis and security upheaval in 2014 through the first- ever successful transfer of power from one elected president to another albeit through a protracted electoral process that tested the will and strength of the battle-scarred Afghan people.
Also during the latter part of the year, the new Afghan unity government signed the much-anticipated bilateral security agreement (BSA) with Washington that would allow the continued military presence of the US and NATO forces but on a limited scale in the country.
The Afghan presidential elections were held on April 5, and since none of the candidates secured more than 50 percent of the some 8 million votes, a runoff poll was conducted between leading candidates -- Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and his challenger Abdullah Abdullah--on June 14.
However, the result of the allegedly fraud-marred elections announced on Sept 21 that declared Ghani as winner was disputed by Abdullah as unfair. This eventually brought the conflict-ridden country to its worst political crisis.
To rescue the country from plunging into the abyss, US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Kabul at least two times and struck a deal under which both Ghani and Abdullah agreed to form a national unity government with former as president and later as chief executive, a newly created post that is equal to the post of prime minister.
In addition to facing political and security challenges, alleged rampant corruption and unchecked poppy cultivation have once again placed Afghanistan among the most corrupt nations and top drug-producing countries in 2014.
In 2014, Afghanistan was also struck by two major natural disasters -- a landslide which had claimed more than 300 lives in the northeast Badakhshan province and a flashflood that left more than 100 dead and hundreds of houses washed away in the northern Baghlan province.
As expected, thousands of Afghans affected by the catastrophes have accused the government of mismanagement and criminal neglect.
President Ghani has vowed to give the Afghans a better government that they deserve, revive the economy and put in place an effective security apparatus that would be able to defeat the Taliban.
It was this overarching need to win against the Taliban that Ghani's first order of priority was to mend relations with the United States and allied nations which were strained during the latter part of former President Hamid Karzai's rule.
Ghani signed the BSA with Washington and a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with NATO. The two pacts would allow the US-led NATO military alliance to keep some 13,000 of their forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014.