“The US Secretary of State John Kerry, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and UN Representative Jan Kubis successfully made the two presidential candidates—Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani to bury their hatchet and accept a 100 percent vote audit under international auspices”
AT News Report
KABUL: At last the deadlock caused by runoff election and rigging allegations gave way as the US Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday night that both of the Afghan presidential candidates were committed to abiding by the results of the “largest and most comprehensive audit” of the ballots. Both of the contenders reached agreement on burying the hatchet and forming a government of national unity. The timely intervention by the international community and the UN representative in Afghanistan saved the country from a serious political impasse as the country’s coming history currently hangs heavy on this presidential race. The deadlock was so serious that Kerry had to extend his stay in Kabul as he was busy in arranging a flurry of meeting over the past two days. The meetings were held between the US Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary General’s Special Representative Jan Kubis, President Hamid Karzai and the two presidential candidates. In the presence of the two candidates, Kerry announced this history-making success at a late-night press conference at the UN headquarters in Kabul. Kerry said there is no more deadlock, as he has been ensured by the two candidates that they ironed out their differences and Afghanistan will have a legitimate elected new president. He stood on Saturday night with the two candidates who earlier were disputing the results of the runoff poll. Kerry said that the former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah have agreed to abide by a 100 percent, audit of ballots but under international supervision. This is a major breakthrough as the country has been saved from sliding into a chaos triggered by rigging allegations. A national unity government would be formed.
Commending the two presidential candidates for seeking a peaceful way out to overcome the electoral impasse, John Kerry said: “Over the last two days, we have been engaged in serious efforts to find a way out of this situation which is acceptable to both of the candidates. We are here to seek a peaceful transition of power from one president to another.”
The US Secretary of State added the two presidential contenders had pledged to participate and accept the results which would be announced after audit of 100 percent ballots cast in the runoff presidential election on June 14.
While reiterating that no presidential candidate was Washington’s favorite, Kerry said the candidates reached an agreement to overcome the deadlock and pave way for smooth and peaceful power transition.
According to him major points of the agreement are:
: Representatives of both candidates will attend the process of auditing all votes cast in the June 14 runoff and abide by the results. Each vote will be counted to restore the legitimacy of the democratic exercise and Afghanistan’s stability;
: The vote audit will begin in Kabul within 24 hours. Ballot boxes will be transported from provinces to the central capital by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops. Afghan forces will provide security.
: The audit will be supervised internationally and in line with UNAMA’s proposal. Candidate observers will have access to the investigations;
: Whosoever wins will form a government of national unity and both sides will respect the IEC/IECC decisions to establish the integrity of the election.
Speaking in the joint press conference, the presidential runner Abdullah thanked Obama and John Kerry for their efforts to remove the electoral deadlock which as puzzled the international community and restricted growth of Afghanistan’s economy.
He also appreciated public for coming out from their homes on June 14 to cast vote while defying terror threats.
Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai on the occasion also vowed that he would abide by the IEC and IECC decision.
Welcoming the agreement, Kubis appreciated the two candidates for their spirit and President Karzai his efforts to resolve the electoral problem and make the election process transparent and acceptable to all.
UNAMA had requested the Afghan president Hamid Karzai to postpone the oath-taking ceremony of his successor, which is scheduled on August 2. The second round of the presidential election ignited a prolonged uncertainty that jeopardize a central plank of the US President Barack Obama’s mechanism to leave behind a stable Afghanistan after the pullout of most of American troops at the end of 2014, and finally the US has to step into the matter and save this troubled country from falling back to square one.