Monday, September 22, 2014

New President of Afghanistan Pashtun Ashraf Ghani - Wins in Elections

Asia News Report: Pashtun Ashraf Ghani is the new president of Afghanistan 
Rival Abdullah Abdullah to take newly formed post of chief executive. The two candidates have signed an agreement to form a government of national unity, with the mediation of the United States. Washington hopes to extend the presence of its troops beyond 2014. 

Kabul (AsiaNews) - Ashraf Ghani will be the new president of Afghanistan. Three months after a disputed ballot and mutual accusations of fraud - which threatened to plunge the country into renewed political instability - the two presidential candidates yesterday signed an agreement to form a government of national unity, in the presence of outgoing Head of State Hamid Karzai . The pact created the figure of the "chief executive", a sort of prime minister, which will go to the runner up Abdullah Abdullah.
Last April, Abdullah Abdullah won the first round in the election, but without an absolute majority. Against all odds, the runoff overturned the results and declared the victory of Ghani with 55% of the vote. Abdullah accused his opponent of vote rigging, but with the intervention of the United States the two candidates agreed to a hold a new ballot.

Thanks to this mediation, Washington hopes to have paved the way for an extension in its troop presence in the nation beyond the date set for the withdrawal of foreign troops by the end of this year. "The United States - says Omar Samad, former Afghan ambassador to France - cannot ignore its investments over the past 13 years, or endanger the security situation in a time when the Middle East and Islamic countries face the new threat of 'IS".

The United States will offer Ghani a bilateral agreement on security - currently stalled - that would allow the American military to remain in the country and unlock billions of dollars which Afghanistan needs to fight the Taliban.

Pashtun (the ethnic majority -ed), the 65-year old Ghani is the second president to be democratically elected since the US invasion in 2001. He served as Finance Minister from 2002 to 2004 and is a former economist at the World Bank. Abdullah Abdullah, an ethnic Tajik, was foreign minister from 2001 to 2005.

When Ghani and Abdullah agreed for the ballot to be re-held, a source for AsiaNews in Kabul, anonymous for security reasons, admitted: "I do not have a preference between the two candidates, but I would like the new head of state to be, at least once, not Pashtun. With a population as varied as the Afghans are, this would be atrue expression of democracy".

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