Monday, September 22, 2014

Afghanistan's President-Elect Ghani Promises to Preserve National Unity --- KABUL—Afghanistan's President-elect Ashraf Ghani on Monday promised to work with his former rival Abdullah Abdullah, pledging to preserve national unity after a three-month dispute over the election's results that threatened to push the country toward civil war. -- In a triumphant address to supporters at the Amani lyceum in central Kabul, Mr. Ghani described Mr. Abdullah, who will become the government's chief executive under a deal signed Sunday and brokered by the U.S., as a part of his team. "As I said before, during my campaign, today's rival will be our future colleague," he said. -- Mr. Abdullah, a former foreign minister who has claimed that the election was stolen from him, didn't make public comments on Monday. -- Mr. Ghani is slated to be inaugurated as president on Sept. 29, marking the first democratic transition in Afghan history and ending the 13-year rule of incumbent President Hamid Karzai. Mr. Ghani didn't mention Mr. Karzai by name in his long speech. -- While Mr. Ghani was surrounded by jubilant allies at the ceremony, there was one notable absence: his running mate, Uzbek former warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum. There was no immediate explanation for the vice president-elect's absence. -- In the speech, Mr. Ghani indicated he intends to assert his presidential authority, and won't allow himself to be held hostage to former warlords and other power-brokers on his own or Mr. Abdullah's teams. "The national unity government is not a shareholding company. It is the sharing of responsibilities, not the sharing of power," he said. -- The agreement signed on Sunday calls for "parity" between Mr. Ghani's and Mr. Abdullah's teams in key security and economic posts, and for an "equitable" split of other government jobs. It was reached after Mr. Abdullah complained of massive fraud in the June 14 election, threatening to form a parallel government that could have split the country. -- The U.S. played a major role in bringing the two sides together, and the U.S. ambassador to Kabul, James Cunningham, on Sunday signed as a witness to the deal, along Mr. Karzai and the United Nations envoy. -- The Taliban Monday condemned the agreement and said they wouldn't recognize Mr. Ghani as president. - More, WSJ,


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