KABUL (Reuters) – Talks between Afghanistan’s rival presidential candidates have stalled again, in part over when and how to release the final results of an election that both say was rigged by the other side, officials said on Wednesday.
Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani were close to a power-sharing deal on Tuesday after they met face-to-face, aides said, but they failed to reach agreement.
One sticking point was that Abdullah did not want the results as they now stand – widely assumed to show him losing – made public. He also wants more ballots invalidated to narrow Ghani’s presumed margin of victory, officials said.
Both sides had earlier pledged to accept the results of a UN-monitored investigation into vote-rigging.
The dispute over the vote to replace President Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s only leader since the 2001 US-led military intervention to oust the Taleban, has destabilised Afghanistan ahead of the withdrawal of foreign troops at year’s end.
Afghan presidential candidate and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 4. Talks between Afghanistan’s rival presidential candidates have stalled again, in part over when and how to release the final results of an election that both say was rigged by the other side – AFP
A power-sharing deal is widely seen as the best hope for peace after each candidate said he won the election and accused the other of vote-rigging, fuelling ethnic and tribal resentment that many people fear could spill over into violence.
The proposed unity government would see the eventual winner of the June runoff election named president. It would also create an expanded chief executive position for the runner-up.
The idea was proposed by US Secretary of State John Kerry in July after preliminary results of the runoff, which showed Ghani 1.2 million votes ahead, prompted protests by Abdullah supporters.
Details of how much power the chief executive would wield have been a major obstacle in finalising the deal.