Friday, June 14, 2024
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Afghan president urges rival successors to unify

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Kabul: Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged the country’s two presidential candidates to reach an agreement on a new national unity government today at a state function that devolved into raucous shouting by agitated supporters of candidate Abdullah Abdullah.
Karzai, who has been in power in Afghanistan since shortly after the 2001 US-led invasion, said that his time as president is over and that the country wants a new government.
He told the crowd of hundreds of powerbrokers to urge Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai to reach a deal to end the country’s now five-month-long election process.
Karzai said the two could reach a deal within days and that Afghanistan could have a new government within a week. Abdullah on Monday announced that he would not accept the expected outcome of the election committee’s recount of some 8 million ballots cast in a June runoff, an indication that the official ballot numbers favour Ghani Ahmadzai.
The official announcement has been expected to be made this week. Today’s ceremony honouring a beloved anti-Taliban fighter who was assassinated, a rowdy crowd of men who mostly back Abdullah’s campaign gave the candidate an opportunity to play the role of statesman during the nationally televised ceremony.
But the effort failed. When Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, a former Afghan president and current Ghani Ahmadzai supporter, rose to speak, many at the ceremony shouted him down. Abdullah bounded up to the podium and reminded his supporters that on Monday he had requested the country to remain peaceful today, a national holiday honouring Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was killed two days before the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US. Despite Abdullah’s plea, the shouts kept raining down, and an agitated Mojaddedi left the podium without speaking. The proceedings closed down unceremoniously shortly afterward.
Abdullah and Ghani Ahmadzai walked into the tent, in reality a large conference room, alongside Karzai, but the two did not acknowledge each other. At one point they stood face-to-face only three feet apart but did not make eye contact.
US pressure on the candidates has yielded no breakthrough. (AP)

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