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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Comment Sorting
Comment on this forum (2)
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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid