Afghan rival presidential candidates clinch deal


U.S. Secretary of State Kerry escorts Afghanistan's presidential candidate Ghani out of a photo opportunity before a meeting at the U.S. embassy in Kabul

Afghanistan’s two rival presidential candidates reached a breakthrough agreement Saturday to a complete audit of their contested presidential election and, whoever the victor, a national unity government.

The compromise, brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offers a way out of what could have been a political crisis for Afghanistan, with both candidates claiming victory and talking of setting up competing governments.

Instead, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah consented to abide by a 100 percent, internationally supervised audit of all 8 million ballots in the presidential election and a national unity government once the results are announced.

The inauguration of Afghanistan’s new president will be postponed from August 2nd, Kerry said on Saturday.

“Both candidates have committed to participate in and stand by the results of the largest most possible audit. Every single ballot that was cast will be audited, all eight million,” Kerry said, according to Agence France Presse.

The process is due to begin in 24 hours, and will be supervised by the United Nations, Kerry said.

Washington’s top diplomat was speaking while on a visit to the Afghan capital of Kabul, where he met with Ghani and Abdullah, as well as incumbent President Hamid Karzai, Reuters reported.

The annoncement on Saturday follows two days of negotiations between the feuding candidates and Kerry over how to resolve a deadlock over a presidential election to pick a successor to Karzai.


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