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High Hopes Await The New Afghan Government

President Ashraf Ghani
President Ashraf Ghani

KABUL--In Afghanistan’s first democratic transfer of power, the national unity government of former academic Ashraf Ghani and his rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, faces steep challenges.

Afghanistan’s roughly 30 million inhabitants are impatient for improved security and a turnaround for the struggling economy. The two men ended the contested presidential election standoff by agreeing to share power, with Ghani as president and Abdullah in the newly-created post of chief executive, which holds powers akin to that of a prime minister.

In his inaugural address, Ghani said they "are very hopeful that from now on in this land the politics will not be an instrument of instability, but rather an instrument of ensuring sustainable stability."

Such words won Ghani millions of votes during the two rounds of elections in April and June, including that of Mohammad Omar, a resident of the capital Kabul, who said he braved Taliban threats to vote for Ghani.

"My only hope is that Ghani will bring peace to Afghanistan," he said.

Ghani is expected to sign a stalled Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States this week, which will allow some 10,000 American troops to remain in Afghanistan in a training and counterterrorism role after the international combat mission ends on December 31.

Another voter, Ahmad Karim, expects Ghani to address a laundry list of problems.

"He should improve education, create jobs for the youth, and eradicate corruption and drugs," he said.

Abdullah supporter Mohammad Hameed said the new administration should deliver reforms, better governance, and transparency.

In thousands of telephone calls, Facebook messages and tweets to RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan and Radio Mashaal, Afghans expressed similar hopes.

They expect the new administration to deliver peace, establish the rule of law, improve the economy, and strengthen national unity among Afghanistan's diverse ethnic groups.

Lawmaker Muhammad Alam Izadyar Gul Afghan told Radio Free Afghanistan that the new administration will deliver on these and other campaign promises.

"The national unity government now has to unite to deliver to people in all aspects of governance," he said.