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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid