News / Asia

    US Applauds Afghan Unity Government

    Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani celebrate on the street after he was named president-elect in Kabul, September 21, 2014.
    Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani celebrate on the street after he was named president-elect in Kabul, September 21, 2014.
    Victor Beattie

    The Obama administration is hailing the agreement between Afghanistan’s rival presidential candidates on forming a government of national unity, saying it marks an ‘important opportunity’ for unity and increased stability.

    The agreement, ending a six-month political impasse, is the culmination of a power-sharing structure brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who said it ensures the first peaceful, democratic transition in Afghanistan.

    The White House applauded former Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister and World Bank official Ashraf Ghani for signing the agreement, saying it “helps bring closure to Afghanistan’s political crisis, and restores confidence in the way forward.”

    The statement said the United States supports the agreement and stands ready to work with the new administration to ensure its success.

    President Barack Obama spoke with both men by telephone Sunday to congratulate them for their leadership and willingness to partner to advance Afghanistan's national interests.

    Speaking at U.N. headquarters Sunday, Kerry reaffirmed America’s strategic partnership with Afghanistan and commitment to continue U.S. support of the new government.

    "I want to congratulate Dr. Ashraf Ghani, the new president announced of Afghanistan, and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah for their joint act of statesmanship, for their leadership, for their willingness to put Afghanistan and the interests of the Afghan people ahead of their personal interests and party," Kerry said.

    "They have joined together in a unity government that offers a huge opportunity for progress in Afghanistan and the signing of the BSA (Bilateral Security Agreement) in a week or so and the inauguration next week of the new president and, importantly, for a real program of unity and reform to be implemented on behalf of the people of Afghanistan," he added.

    Mediated agreement

    Kerry, who helped mediate the power-sharing agreement in August, said these developments will open a new chapter in U.S.-Afghan relations.

    According to the four-page agreement, Ghani, who is expected to be sworn in September 29, will share power with Abdullah, who will be named chief executive. The two will share control over who leads key ministries. 

    RAND Corporation South Asia analyst Jonah Blank welcomed the power-sharing agreement.

    "Afghanistan has traditionally had a decentralized system of governance. This agreement that soon-to-be-president Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah have put in place brings some of that local accountability and some of that deal-making that is so much part of Afghan politics back into the system," Blank said.

    He added that he believes this agreement will defuse ethnic tensions in the country.

    "If one candidate had simply been the winner-take-all champion and the other candidate had been left completely out in the cold, then a lot of the ethnic groups in Afghanistan, and it’s not just Pashtun versus Tajik, it’s also about the divisions within the Pashtun community, indeed within all the communities," Blank said.

    "This arrangement lets all of those divisions and all of those conflicts get played out in the realm of politics rather than the realm of violence," he said.

    Blank also praised what he called the statesmanship and patriotism of both Abdullah and Ghani for forging an agreement that he describes as not ideal from either perspective, but correct for the Afghan people.

    Worrisome aspects

    However, Nazif Shahrani, an Afghan-born Indiana University professor, said there are worrisome aspects to the agreement.

    "It is essentially disrespecting people’s votes," Shahrani said. "The people, with all their enthusiasm six months ago went to the polls and voted, and again they did it in the second round, and both of [the elections] were basically fraudulent because of what the government, and those running [the election] and those who were administering it did. ...

    "And, at the end, they did not even announce the percentages of the vote supposedly won or lost after six months and after huge costs to American taxpayers but, at the end, it was meaningless," Shahrani said. "It was a deal made between groups of elites, who are already in the government, who have been part of this government for the past 13 years."

    He is concerned the two candidates will continue showing the mistrust in government they exhibited during the election process.

    "If they trusted each other, [the election process] should not have gone this far. You remember, Secretary Kerry went twice to Kabul to broker this deal, and that did not work and, eventually, the deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations intervened, and the permanent representative there, and the U.S. ambassador there, Ambassador Cunningham," Shahrani said.

    "Who ends up in the so-called unity government is still a puzzle. How are they going to be named, and who will name them, and how will they divvy up so-called key ministries and less important ministries? All of these are issues that could cause a great deal of concern," he added.

    Shahrani said a positive outcome of this process is the winner-take-all presidency enshrined in the country’s constitution has been challenged. He called the power-sharing agreement a temporary solution, but hopes a Loya Jirga (grand council) scheduled in two years will address what he calls the constitutional concentration of power in the presidency.

    Both analysts acknowledged the new leadership faces monumental economic, security and political challenges.

    You May Like

    Can EU Survive a Brexit?

    Across Europe politicians are asking if the British vote to leave the European Union will set in motion dynamics that will see other member states leave too

    Video Entrepreneurs at Global Summit Tackle Range of Challenges

    Innovators strive to halt sexual harassment in India, improve rural health in Myanmar, build businesses in Africa

    Key African Anti-Venom About to Permanently Run Out

    The tale of Fav-Afrique’s demise is a complicated one that reflects a deeper crisis brewing in global public health

    This forum has been closed.
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Marketsi
    June 24, 2016 10:43 AM
    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

    Video Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Markets

    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Video During Ramadan, Faith and Football Converge in Lebanon’s Megadome

    In Beirut, a group of young entrepreneurs has combined its Muslim faith and love of football to create the city's newest landmark: a large, Ramadan-ready dome primed for one of the biggest football (soccer) tournaments in the world. But as the faithful embrace the communal spirit of Islam’s holy month, it is not just those breaking their fasts that are welcome.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora