Afghan presidential candidates sign unity deal following talks with Kerry

World Today

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, from left, speaks as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and another candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai listen during a joint press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Afghanistan’s rival presidential candidates, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, have signed a deal to cooperate on the formation of a government of national unity, following meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday.

A joint declaration that both of the candidates signed did not provide details on the government’s framework, except to say that both sides would form commissions to work on its structure.

The power sharing deal, agreed to verbally during Kerry’s last visit to Afghanistan a month ago, was intended to pull the country back from war along ethnic lines after both candidates claimed victory in an election marred by widespread fraud.

“One of these men is going to be president but both are going to be critical to the future of Afghanistan no matter what,” Kerry told reporters in Kabul.


The breakthrough came as the U.S. Secretary of State opened a second day of talks in Afghanistan aimed at preventing the fragile country from collapsing into political chaos after disputed elections.

“This is really an Afghan solution to an Afghan problem,” Kerry said at a news conference. “Both parties have agreed to stay at it, and both parties have agreed to live by the outcome.”

Abdullah called the agreement “another step forward in the interests of strengthening national unity in the country, strengthening rule of law in the country and bringing hope to the people for the future of Afghanistan.”

Ahmadzai said he and Abdullah, whom he called a “brother and colleague,” were determined to turn what he termed a “vicious circle” of turmoil in many parts of the Muslim world into a “virtuous circle” for the people of Afghanistan. He also said that “solving the problems of the country cannot happen on the basis of a winner-take-all approach.”

Ahmadzai said he hoped that an exact date for the inauguration would be “very firm” in the next week to 10 days.

Kerry is on a previously unannounced visit to Kabul to urge the candidates to accept the results of an ongoing audit of all ballots from the June election, and form a national unity government by early September. This would coincide with an upcoming NATO summit in Wales where leaders will consider their options in Afghanistan.

Report compiled with information from Reuters and The Associated Press