KABUL – Afghan President-elect Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah have held rival swearing-in ceremonies, suggesting that their US-brokered talks over a disputed presidential race have yielded no result.
Television footage showed Ghani taking an oath at the presidential palace in Kabul at a ceremony attended by a number of foreign diplomats, including US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
Meanwhile, there were reports that the inauguration ceremony was temporarily disrupted by the sound of a rocket explosion in Kabul, but that President Ghani was unharmed and continued to address the event.
Presidential candidate and rival in the September 2019 disputed election Abdullah Abdullah held his own ceremony at a similar time.
The two rivals had earlier postponed their plans to hold parallel inauguration ceremonies to allow for more time to resolve their differences over the 2019 vote.
Abdullah, who serves as the chief executive officer of the outgoing administration, has rejected a decision by Afghanistan’s Election Commission last month to announce Ghani as the winner of the presidential election, proclaiming himself to be the president-elect.
An official who declined to be named said Ghani, Abdullah and Khalilzad held meetings on Monday morning as they worked towards a deal to prevent two parallel inauguration ceremonies.
Abdullah’s office confirmed that Khalilzad on Monday had held three meetings with the chief executive to “find a solution” for the matter, but had not succeeded.
Afghan politicians had earlier voiced concerns about the future of an attempt to hold two inauguration ceremonies in a single day, believing it will push the country into a new political crisis. The country’s previous presidential election was also marred by a similar dispute involving Ghani and Abdullah, which was resolved by a US-brokered power-sharing agreement.
The new row comes just days after the US and the Afghan Taliban militant group reached a tentative deal on the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country following months-long talks, which excluded the Kabul government.
The Afghan government should now be preparing for talks with the militant group following the US-Taliban deal.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.