Sunday, September 21, 2014

Afghan presidential contenders sign election deal --- A deal to form a government of national unity in Afghanistan has been signed at a ceremony in Kabul. -- The signing - broadcast live on national TV - comes after months of wrangling following presidential elections in April and June. -- Under the deal, Ashraf Ghani becomes president while runner-up Abdullah Abdullah nominates a CEO with powers similar to those of prime minister. -- The power-sharing deal was finally reached after a comprehensive audit of all eight million votes which began in July. -- BBC Afghanistan correspondent David Loyn, who has seen a copy of the final document, says the deal averts potential violence by supporters of Mr Abdullah. -- The agreement says the new CEO will be answerable to Mr Ghani, although he has lost a battle to be sworn in after the announcement of the election result, our correspondent says. --- The creation of the government of national unity will now diminish the importance of the election result. I understand that after the audit the final gap between the two candidates was less than three points - a significant cut from Ashraf Ghani's lead after the first count of 13 points. -- A president who has built an international reputation as an incorruptible technocrat is tarnished by the fact that most of the fraud in the election was discovered to be in his votes. -- The new Afghan government will have a cabinet of ministers, including the CEO and two deputies, chaired by the president who will take strategic decisions. Day-to-day administration will be carried out by a new Council of Ministers, chaired by the CEO, and including all ministers. -- One major issue that divided both camps was over appointments. Dr Abdullah won the fight to be able to appoint senior positions on terms of "parity" with Dr Ghani, and "the two teams will be equally represented at the leadership level". -- But appointments further down will be "equitably" shared - so there will not be a one-for-one handout of jobs across the country. Dr Ghani is impatient to make major reforms, and has secured the wording he wants on the formation of a "merit-based" mechanism to appoint senior officials. - Read More, BBC,


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