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article imageAfghani candidates agree to settle election dispute

By Nathan Salant     Aug 10, 2014 in World
Kabul - Afghanistan should finally have a new president in September under the terms of a new accord aimed at resolving the country's disputed presidential election runoff earlier this year.
Former finance minister Ashraf Ghani and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, who ran against each other in a June runoff marred by allegations of election fraud, agreed Friday to resolve the dispute by forming a unity government.
If the agreement holds, it would mark the first peaceful transfer of power in Aghanistan's history.
But that seems to be a big if, given the troubled state of politics in the wartorn Asian nation.
The accord between the two candidates seems to be a triumph for US Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with them on Friday in an effort to ensure that the planned transition from former President Hamid Karzai did not collapse.
Kerry announced the agreement Friday evening accompanied by the two candidates, according to the Reuters news service.
Both candidates declared victory after the runoff and a United Nations-supervised recount is underway, Reuters said.
"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 said.
The power-sharing deal signed Friday requires both candidates to agree to a timeline for resolving the election dispute and an inauguration date in August for the next president of Afghanistan.
Karzai became president of Afghanistan in 2001 after NATO troops led by the United States ousted the Taliban regime that had imposed their brand of Islam on the country in 1996.
Western nations want the recount and audit of the votes completed well before a scheduled NATO summit in September.
"This audit is not about winning and losing, it is about achieving a credible result that people of Afghanistan deserve," Kerry said.
Nearly all foreign troops are expected to leave Afghanistan by the end of the year, Reuters said.
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