Ghani sworn in as new Afghan president

Sep 29, 2014, 4:46 AM EDT
Afghan president-elect Ashraf Ghani looks on during his swearing in ceremony as the country's new president at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on September 29, 2014.
AFP/Getty Images

Ashraf Ghani has been sworn in as Afghanistan's president in a ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul. The BBC reports:

It comes after six months of deadlock amid a bitter dispute over electoral fraud and a recount of votes.

Under a US-brokered unity deal Mr Ghani takes over the presidency and runner-up Abdullah Abdullah can nominate a figure with prime-ministerial powers.

The Taliban have described the deal as a "US-orchestrated sham" but Mr Ghani hailed it as a "big victory".

Mr Ghani took an oath to abide by the constitution at the swearing-in ceremony attended by up to 100 dignitaries.

Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday saluted what he called the triumph of “statesmanship and compromise” in Afghanistan. The Guardian writes:

Kerry was writing in the Washington Post ahead of the inauguration of President Ashraf Ghani, which he said would mark “the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history and the first peaceful leadership transition in more than 40 years”.

Ghani, he said, would “work in tandem with the country’s first-ever chief executive officer”, Abdullah Abdullah, after the “two statesmen … came together to form a government of national unity following a very contentious election”.

Ghani and Abdullah reached their power-sharing agreement last weekend, three controversy-filled months after the country’s presidential election failed to find a clear successor to Hamid Karzai, president since 2004, who came to power in an election which took place after the American-led invasion of the country and the fall of the Taliban.

Ghani will run the cabinet and take charge of strategic functions; Abdullah will be in charge of daily duties. Kerry wrote: “This moment was not easily arrived at, and it belongs primarily to the millions who courageously went to the polls to vote in April and June in defiance of Taliban threats. The voters’ message was unequivocal: No improvised explosive device and no suicide bomber would stand in the way of their country’s democratic future.”