Afghan candidate casts doubt over power sharing

Aug 13, 2014, 12:56 AM EDT
Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani holds up his inked finger as he speaks to media after casting his vote at a polling station on June 14, 2014 in in Kabul, Afghanistan.
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Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani cast fresh doubt over a deal to share power with his rival Abdullah Abdullah on Tuesday, saying the accord was ambiguous and needed clarifying.

Ghani said the language of a document signed during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was unclear. Reuters writes:

[Abdullah] Abdullah was the clear winner in the first round of Afghanistan's presidential election in April, while a preliminary count showed Ghani won the run-off vote in June.

However, the ballot was marred by accusations of mass fraud, which in turn have fueled tensions between the rival camps, raising fears of a civil war along ethnic lines.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has twice flown to Kabul to try to defuse the crisis and last Friday helped persuade the pair to sign a framework agreement for sharing power, including control over key economic and security institutions.

Under the terms of the deal, the runner-up will be appointed to a specially created role of "chief executive", who will share equal control with the president over certain key decisions, such as nominating the head of the army and intelligence agency.

Ghani went on to say that he would reject the deal if he were to win a recount of votes. From The Washington Post:

Speaking to foreign journalists at his fortified compound in the capital, Ghani appeared to be trying to tamp down a surge of discontent among his supporters and allies, many of whom are reportedly upset that he agreed under U.S. pressure to a full recount of ballots from the troubled presidential runoff in June and the formation of a “unity” government with his rival.

On Friday, Ghani restated those pledges during a visit by Secretary of State John F. Kerry. But on Tuesday, he sought to clarify that he has not agreed to a power-sharing agreement with former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah. Ghani said the winner will appoint the loser “by decree” as a chief executive to serve “at the discretion of the president.” Abdullah has demanded more authority if he loses.