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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora