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The Taliban and the 2014 presidential elections in Afghanistan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-573
JournalConflict, Security & Development
Issue number6
Early online date8 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


King's Authors


The Taliban’s attitude towards the Afghan presidential elections of 2014 differed in a very substantial way from their attitude towards previous elections. Already during 2013 there were discussions within the Taliban, about whether it would not be opportune to support a candidate, in order to get a president elected, who would be more amenable to reconciliation talks with the Taliban. However, the Taliban were unable to reach a consensus on the matter, leading to differing responses to the electoral campaign of 2014, with some Taliban networks violently opposed to it, while others decided to support specific candidates. During the second round, the large majority of the Taliban decided to support Ashraf Ghani’s election, but not without serious friction with the movement’s hardliners. The majority of the Taliban’s leaders hoped that once elected, Ghani would start negotiations with them on favourable terms, whereas they believed that an Abdullah presidency would make any negotiated settlement impossible in the future. The new approach seriously alienated the Taliban’s hardliners, laying the ground for a new wave of recriminations among the Taliban, contributing to further internal divisions.

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