Talks on a power-sharing deal between Afghanistan's rival
presidential candidates have collapsed, a top leader said,
rekindling fears of ethnic unrest over disputed election
Under the terms of a deal brokered by US Secretary of State
John Kerry, the runner-up in the vote was to name a "chief
executive" in a national unity government conceived to keep
the lid on political tensions.
Abdullah Abdullah was runner-up in the official election
results. Mohammad Mohaqeq, one of Abdullah's vice
presidential running mates, told Reuters the two sides could
not agree on the powers of the chief executive, accusing the
camp of election winner Ashraf Ghani of hardening its
"The talks collapsed two days ago. The political process is
now at a stalemate, we don't see any way out," Mohaqeq, a
leader of the minority Hazara community, said in an interview
in Kabul, as a months-long power struggle to succeed
President Hamid Karzai showed no signs of a resolution.
The breakdown in negotiations on a political deal comes days
after Abdullah's team walked out of a U.N. audit of votes
from a June 2 run-off ballot, saying it was dissatisfied with
the way that fraudulent votes were being handled.
Together, the two failures have left the US-mediated deal in
tatters and deepened the uncertainty about when President
Hamid Karzai can hand over power to a successor.
Karzai had earlier planned Tuesday as the inauguration day
for the new president, in time for him to attend a NATO
summit in Wales two days later. But that was pushed back
after the United Nations said it would be able to complete
the audit only by around Sept. 10.
Karzai is not going to quit power without the completion of
the process, a spokesman said.
"The President is not considering the step down before the
official transfer of power to the new Afghan President. It is
unconstitutional to step down before officially transferring
the power to his successor," Aimal Faizi said in a statement.
The deadlock comes as the United States, Kabul's biggest aid
donor, and other NATO nations withdraw their troops after
nearly 13 years of fighting Taliban insurgents.
FEARS OF ETHNIC CONFLICT
Officials and diplomats fear it could trigger conflict along
ethnic lines, on top of the insurgency.
"Announcing the results based on fraudulent means endangers
the whole process and takes the country deeper into crisis.
It is in no one's interest. It will divide Afghanistan,"
Ghani, a former finance minister and World Bank economist, is
a member of Afghanistan's biggest ethnic group, the Pashtuns,
who make up of most of the population in the south and east.
Abdullah is part Pashtun and part ethnic Tajik, but draws
most of his support from Tajiks, the Hazaras and other
smaller ethnic groups, largely in the centre and north.
Under the terms of the deal agreed during Kerry's visit in
July, the chief executive would share control with the
president over some key decisions, such as nominating the
heads of the Afghan security forces.
But it was left to the two campaigns to work out the
specifics of power-sharing.
Ghani has said the language of the document signed during
Kerry's visit was ambiguous and it was up to the two teams to
work out the details. His spokesman Tahir Zaheer dismissed
the Abdullah campaign's demands as unconstitutional.
Chaos in Afghanistan as Western forces pull out would be a
political blow for those countries which have spent billions
of dollars and lost about 3,500 soldiers in a bid to bring
peace and stability after Taliban rule.