Kabul: Afghanistan’s two rival presidential candidates have signed a power-sharing deal at a ceremony in Kabul, ending a prolonged stand-off over disputed election results.
The final vote count is also scheduled for release, after being delayed for last-minute talks to break a deadlock that plunged Afghanistan into crisis as U.S.-led troops end their 13-year war against the Taliban.
Under the deal, Ashraf Ghani who won June’s run-off presidential vote, will become president, while runner-up Abdullah Abdullah will be nominated Chief Executive Officer with powers similar to those of Prime Minister.
According to the New York Times, the suppression of the vote totals was apparently the final step necessary for the two presidential candidates to sign an American-brokered agreement.
The two men signed that deal even before Ghani was formally declared the winner by the Independent Election Commission late on Sunday.
The two candidates met at the Presidential Palace in Kabul with President Hamid Karzai and their supporters, quickly signed their two copies of the four-page agreement and then briefly hugged each other, to tepid applause from the audience.
In a brief speech, Mr. Karzai thanked them, and then the event was over in 10 minutes — in sharp contrast to the protracted election process that began in February, ran through two elections and involved a long and controversial audit, which the United Nations called the most exhaustive it had ever overseen.
The candidates’ signatures on the deal forming a power-sharing government came five hours before the election commission announced the winner.