John Kerry brokers Afghan election deal but leaves behind confusion

Published: July 19, 2014
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Over 8.1 million votes from 22,822 polling stations will be audited in the presence of the representatives of both candidates, international and national observers, civil society and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission, said the election commission’s chairman Ahmed Yusuf Nuristani.PHOTO: AFP

Over 8.1 million votes from 22,822 polling stations will be audited in the presence of the representatives of both candidates, international and national observers, civil society and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission, said the election commission’s chairman Ahmed Yusuf Nuristani.PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Even though US Secretary of State John Kerry succeeded in brokering a deal to resolve the deadlock over the Afghan presidential election run-off, confusion still persists about the proposal of forming a “government of national unity”.

On July 12, Kerry announced the agreement in the presence of both rivals Dr Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul. “The winner of the election will serve as the president and will immediately form a government of national unity,” said Kerry.

However, the top US official failed to explain the composition of the unity government.

Kerry’s vague proposal has caused uproar within the camps of the two candidates and leaders from both sides have expressed concerns that they might not get any position in the new government.

Offering explanations

As confusion persists, both leaders are making efforts to explain the proposal.

On Thursday, Abdullah told a news conference in Kabul that he had floated the concept of a national unity government for the political future of Afghanistan so that an administration is established in which all have a share under the principle of meritocracy, the pro-Abdullah Noor TV quoted him as saying.

However, president-elect Ashraf Ghani disputed Abdullah’s interpretation and ruled out a coalition government with him. Ghani reportedly said he would not strike any deal over the people’s votes as “politics is not a commercial transaction”.

“Reaching an agreement with Abdullah is based on principles, which does not mean a partnership or a coalition government,” Ghani told a gathering in Orgun district of Paktika province, where he went to condole bereaved families of a recent suicide attack, Pajhwok Afghan News reported on Thursday.

Some Afghan political analysts played down differences over the proposal, saying the major concern is the technicalities of power sharing.

Regional Studies Center of Afghanistan President Abdul Ghafoor Liwal said some supporters of Abdullah and Ghani are concerned about the proposal as they do not have the details of the composition of the government which would be formed under it.

Liwal told The Express Tribune via phone from Kabul on Friday that the leaders from both sides are afraid that they might not get positions in the new set-up and were therefore expressing reservations.

Discontent within

Even though international players have welcomed the “amicable solution” to the election crisis, Afghans are divided over US intervention in Afghanistan’s internal problems.

The chairman of the Afghan Senate, Fazal Hadi Muslim Yar, remarked during the Senate session this week that is was a shame that the US secretary of state came to Afghanistan to resolve its election dispute, Radio Azadi reported.

Some sections of the Afghan media are also unhappy about Kerry’s intervention and say the people believe that inviting the US to intervene in the election process and allowing Kerry to shape the destiny of the Afghan people was not appropriate.

“Electoral disputes and recent fatal incidents have paved the way for foreigners to achieve their ominous goals in the country. Now everyone can realize that political and security developments in Afghanistan are managed by foreigners to ensure their interests,” read an editorial published by Pashto-language daily Sarnawesht on Wednesday.

Another daily, Gardab stated the US had created the electoral dispute using the influence it has over the candidates in order to ensure the safety of US interests in the country.

“The US interests are best secured in the presence of a coalition government in Afghanistan than in the presence of a strong national government,” its editorial stated.

US President Barrack Obama had decided to send Kerry to Kabul after Abdullah rejected the election’s preliminary results which put his rival Ghani in the lead.

Vote audit under way

Under the deal brokered by Kerry, the Independent Election Commission has started auditing the ballots cast in the run-off elections held on June 14.

Over 8.1 million votes from 22,822 polling stations will be audited in the presence of the representatives of both candidates, international and national observers, civil society and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission, said the election commission’s chairman Ahmed Yusuf Nuristani.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2014.

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