Viva Afghanistan!!!!

….former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and former
Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah agreed to…..internationally supervised audit of all 8 million ballots…..They vowed to form a national unity government
once the results are announced….

As we have always pointed out, democracy is not about voting, it is about the loser accepting the result in good faith and to agree to perform the role of a loyal opposition. In Afghanistan we will have to wait for democracy to mature fully, for now the compromise plan is a national unity govt. Even this is excellent news and heartiest congratulations.

It is especially good considering the nightmare that is now Iraq (after the Americans left 3 years ago on Iraqi demands).


Afghanistan will need to go a long way in order to develop robust institutions that will support individuals not tribes. As always it is critical that women get the safe harbor that they deserve.

Unfortunately for the minorities (Hindus, Sikhs….) it is high time that they leave the country. There will be no tolerance now or in the future (when the Taliban makes a comeback attempt). Here is an idea: make a direct appeal to PM Modi. After all the BJP and the Akalis are in an alliance and resettlement of migrant Hindus and Sikhs are the humane and right thing to do.
…………………….
Afghanistan’s two rival candidates reached a breakthrough agreement
Saturday to a complete audit of their contested presidential election
and, whoever the victor, a national unity government. 

…..
The deal, brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, offers a
path out of what threatened to be a debilitating political crisis for
Afghanistan, with both candidates claiming victory and talking of
setting up competing governments.

Such a scenario could have dangerously split the fragile
country’s government and security forces at a time the U.S. is pulling
out most of its troops and the Taliban continues to wage a fierce
insurgency.

Instead, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and former
Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah agreed to abide by a 100 percent,
internationally supervised audit of all 8 million ballots in the
presidential election. They vowed to form a national unity government
once the results are announced, presumably one that includes members of
each side.

Kerry, who conducted shuttle diplomacy between the two candidates
late into the night Friday and Saturday, warned that much work still
remained.

“This will be still a difficult road because there are important
obligations required and difficult decisions to be made,” Kerry told
reporters after briefing Afghanistan’s current president, Hamid Karzai,
shortly after midnight.

The audit, which comes after widespread fraud allegations, is
expected to take several weeks, beginning with the ballot boxes in the
capital of Kabul.

Boxes from the provinces will be flown to the capital by
helicopter by U.S. and international forces and examined on a rolling
basis. Representatives from each campaign as well as international
observers will oversee the review, and the candidate with the most votes
will be declared the winner and become president.

Both candidates agreed to respect the result, and the winner
would immediately form a national unity government. The inauguration,
which had been scheduled for Aug. 2, would be postponed, with Karzai
staying on a little longer as president.

Abdullah said the election created “serious challenges.” But he
praised Ahmadzai for working toward the accord on the the audit and the
unity government.

Ahmadzai returned the compliments, lauding his competitor’s
patriotism and commitment to a dialogue that promotes national unity.

“Stability is the desire of everyone,” Ahmadzai said. “Our aim is
simple: We’ve committed to the most thorough audit” in history. Such a
process would remove any ambiguity about the result, he added.

Abdullah and Ahmadzai spoke first in English, then in Dari.
Ahmadzai also spoke in Pashto. When they were done, they shook hands and
hugged. Kerry later joined them as they raised their arms in triumph
hand-in-hand.

The announcement came as a relief to a country on edge and
worried about how the election dispute would resolve itself. Both the
full audit and the agreement to form a unity government drew praise from
television commentators immediately after the speeches.

The prolonged uncertainty about the outcome of the election had
jeopardized a central plank of President Barack Obama’s strategy to
leave behind a stable state after the withdrawal of most U.S. troops at
year’s end.

Preliminary runoff results, released earlier this week against
U.S. wishes, suggested a massive turnaround in favor of Ahmadzai, the
onetime World Bank economist. He had lagged significantly behind
Abdullah in first-round voting.

Abdullah, a top leader of the Northern Alliance that battled the
Taliban before the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, claimed massive
ballot-stuffing. He was runner-up to Karzai in a fraud-riddled 2009
presidential vote before he pulled out of that runoff, and many of his
supporters see him being cheated for a second time. Some, powerful
warlords included, have spoken of establishing a “parallel government.”

Kerry and Karzai discussed the deal past midnight Saturday. When
they emerged early Sunday, the Afghan leader endorsed the outcome.

Speaking alongside Karzai at the Presidential Palace, Kerry said
the democracy springing up in Afghanistan “deserved its full bloom.” He
offered robust U.S. support to ensure the deal holds.

The U.N. chief in Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, who will direct much of
the technical aspects of the audit, delivered his strongest praise for
Kerry. He said Kerry’s work wasn’t typical diplomacy but almost a
“miracle.”

Extended instability would have immediate consequences for
Afghanistan. If no process had been established and both Ahmadzai and
Abdullah attempted to seize power, the government and security forces
could have split along ethnic and regional lines. 

The winner amid such
chaos could be the Taliban, whose battle against the government persists
despite the United States spending hundreds of billions of dollars and
losing more than 2,000 lives since invading the country after the Sept.
11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The Taliban have intensified their spring offensive in a bid to
undermine the Western-backed government. Saturday’s breakthrough came
after two roadside bombs killed at least 10 people, authorities said.
The Taliban was blamed for the larger attack in Kandahar province.

Kerry repeatedly stressed in his mediation that Washington isn’t taking sides.

Kubis and other officials said the talks in Kabul focused on the
technical particulars of the U.N. audit. Kerry spent significant time
hammering home the point that each side must come together at the end of
the contest for the good of the country.

With Iraq wracked by an extremist Sunni rebellion, the Obama
administration moved quickly to ensure Afghanistan’s political
instability also didn’t break out into violence. A prolonged crisis also
could have had other security implications for Washington.

Both Ahmadzai and Abdullah have vowed to seal a bilateral security pact with the U.S. that Karzai has refused to sign.

The United States says it needs the legal guarantees in order to
leave behind some 10,000 troops in Afghanistan next year. If the pact
isn’t finalized, U.S. officials say they may have to pull out all
American forces, an undesired scenario that played out three years ago
in Iraq.

……..

Link: http://www.theguardian.com/world/feedarticle/11439300

……

regards

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