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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs