News / Asia

Kerry Visits Afghanistan to Defuse Election Standoff

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the Strategic Dialogue expanded meeting with Chinese officials, July 10, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the Strategic Dialogue expanded meeting with Chinese officials, July 10, 2014.
Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived early Friday in Afghanistan's capital, where he'll try to resolve a deepening crisis over a disputed presidential election that has stirred ethnic tensions in the fragile country.

Returning from a diplomatic visit to China, Kerry plans to meet Friday in Kabul with the two leading candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani.

Kerry will convey President Barack Obama's message that the United States expects "a thorough review of all reasonable allegations of fraud and ... will not accept any extra-constitutional measures," the State Department said in a statement.

Kerry already has warned Abdullah against using extra-legal means to grab power after his running mate talked about setting up a parallel government.

Preliminary results from the June 14 second-round run-off put Ghani, a former World Bank official, in the lead to replace outgoing President Hamid Karzai. Abdullah, trailing by about 1 million votes, has rejected the count and his aides have threatened to set up an alternative administration.

The United States says it does not take sides in the election, but does support a credible transparent process.

Ghani's camp, confident of victory, is wary of Kerry's mediation efforts, while Abdullah, who has alleged widespread fraud in the vote, welcomes the initiative.

Leverage uncertain

The United States, Afghanistan's biggest foreign donor, is in the process of withdrawing its forces from the country after 12 years of fighting Taliban insurgents, and it is unclear what leverage Kerry would have in resolving deep-seated rivalries.

Abdullah's camp, angry with Ghani's lead in the vote, has threatened to announce its own parallel government, a dangerous prospect for Afghanistan, already split along ethnic lines.

In a clear warning to Abdullah, Kerry said this week Washington would withdraw financial and security support if anyone tried to take power illegally. That would be a massive blow, given about 90 percent of the Afghan budget comes from foreign aid.

Speaking to reporters at the end of annual high-level U.S.-China talks, Kerry made no mention of the pending Kabul trip but said he had discussed the situation with all sides.

"I have been in touch several times with both candidates, as well as President Karzai," he said in Beijing. "We would encourage both for them to not raise expectations with their supporters, to publicly demonstrate respect for the accountability process and also to show critical statesmanship and leadership at a time when Afghanistan obviously needs it."

Candidate delays

Abdullah has put off announcing his government until after Kerry's visit. His camp welcomes U.S. involvement, hoping it could help pressure election officials into throwing out suspicious votes and thus change the race's outcome.

Abdullah has accused the outgoing president, who has an uneasy relationship with the United States, of backing Ghani and playing a role in rigging the vote.

"His Excellency John Kerry is coming ... so we welcome any effort to differentiate between clean votes and invalid votes," said Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, Abdullah's second vice president and the leader of Afghanistan's ethnic Hazara minority. "I don't say that they should interfere, but they should cooperate in transparency. They should provide us political and
technical support," he told Reuters at his vast house in Kabul.

Bitter standoff

U.S. support is crucial for Afghanistan, which depends on foreign donors to fund everything from road-building to teachers' salaries and security, with Washington paying the lion's share of the bill.

President Barack Obama and Kerry have spoken to both candidates to encourage them to find a compromise and stop the country sliding into further political chaos.

"The goal is to help the parties find a way forward that ensures that the next president of Afghanistan has a credible mandate to lead a unified Afghanistan," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told Reuters.

"The United States has made clear that our preference is to continue our strong support and assistance to Afghanistan and the Afghan people, but if the leaders of Afghanistan are unwilling to abide by their own constitution, that could impact the kind of financial and security assistance the United States provides."

Review expected

The White House has added, however, it expects "a thorough review of all reasonable allegations of fraud to ensure a credible electoral process".

Former U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan James Dobbins, in an address to the Asia Society in Washington on Wednesday, said Obama had spoken to both candidates. He said the president "assured them that Secretary Kerry would be arriving for discussions with them at the end of this week; and cautioned in particular Dr. Abdullah about moving pre-emptively in an unconstitutional fashion."

Abdullah, a former anti-Taliban resistance fighter, draws his support mainly from the Tajik minority in northern Afghanistan. Ghani, a former World Bank economist, represents Pashtun tribes in the south and east of the country.

Abdullah's refusal to accept the outcome of the vote has created a deadlock in Afghanistan, threatening to split the country along ethnic lines and setting the stage for a possibly bloody standoff or even secession in parts of the country.

The lack of political unity in Afghanistan has prompted observers to draw parallels with Iraq, where a one-sided government has failed to represent all parts of the political spectrum, weakening the country and allowing an al-Qaida offshoot to capture large swathes of Iraq in recent weeks.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters and the Associated Press.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Not Again from: Canada
July 10, 2014 9:46 PM
It is good to see the US mediating, but it is clearly evident that neither candidate will accept the results, unless it is in his particular favour; unfortunately the election is perceived as tainted, if not actually tainted.
Abdullah and Ghani complenment each other because of their backgrounds, ethnicities, and regions of full voter/citizen support. The best way ahead is for both of them put Afghanistan's future, ahead of their own individual ambitions, and form a unity coalition gvmt, and proceed to improve the lives of all Afghani people. It is unfortunate, after all the efforts and risks taken by each voter, that the process was screwd up! Who was responsible for the process, Karzai, and as usual, did not get it right.

by: ali baba from: new york
July 10, 2014 12:10 PM
Afghanistan Is a country that live in stone age. no respect to law. whatever happen in the election is not our business. we should not spent a penny in that country

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More