Ashraf Ghani named Afghan president-elect
Ashraf Ghani was named president-elect on Sunday after he signed a deal to share power with his opponent.
KABUL - Former Afghan finance minister Ashraf Ghani was named president-elect on Sunday after he signed a deal to share power with his opponent, ending months of turmoil over an election that destabilised the country as most foreign troops prepare to leave.
Ghani's administration must now not only forge an effective government after so much acrimony, but also deal an emboldened Taliban-led insurgency that is bringing near-daily attacks across the country.
In announcing the pact, authorities withheld the final election numbers, apparently as part of the political deal between Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister who claimed the vote was rigged against him.
"The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan declares Dr Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as the president of Afghanistan," commission chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani said.
Under the terms of the unity deal, Ghani will share power with a chief executive proposed by Abdullah. The two will share control over who leads key institutions such as the army and other executive decisions.
Nuristani acknowledged deep flaws in a June 14 run-off vote and said a UN-supervised audit was not adequate to weed out all vote-rigging.
The audit was organised at a cost of $10 million to be paid with US aid money, according to the United Nations.
The final sticking point in the negotiations to form a unity government was Abdullah's insistence that the official final vote tally not be released, his aides have said.
Abdullah was widely believed to be far behind in the official results.
He appeared to have won a concession to at least delay making the results public, though Nuristani said on Sunday the full count would be provided at a later date.
Ghani and Abdullah ratified the power-sharing agreement earlier on Sunday at the presidential palace, joined by outgoing leader Hamid Karzai. The rivals-turned-partners shared a brief embrace after signing.
Ghani is expected to be sworn in as president on 29 September, according to a senior official.
The negotiated end to the crisis was far from the smooth election process that the US and its allies had envisioned.
They had hoped for a plausible democratic transfer of power ahead of the end of the military mission that started with the 2001 ouster of the Islamist Taliban for sheltering al-Qaeda leaders behind the 11 September attacks on the United States.
Still, after weeks of election uncertainty that at times seemed about to descend into political and ethnic violence, the resolution was greeted with relief by many Afghans.
"The six-month election deadlock damaged life for Afghans," Kabul resident Mohammad Alim said. "We didn't have normal sleep, investors fled from Afghanistan, people were worried about their future ... but today people are relaxed and happy."
But the government will face significant difficulty in improving the lives of Afghans who face hardship as tax revenues plummet, aid flows fall and contracts with the NATO-led force dry up with most foreign troops leaving by the end of the year.