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  •  Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission declared incumbent Ashraf Ghani winner of the Sept. 28 presidential election.

    Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission declared incumbent Ashraf Ghani winner of the Sept. 28 presidential election. | Photo: EFE

Published 24 February 2020
Opinion

The Ghani-Abdullah feud threatens to further complicate the naming of a delegation to negotiate with the insurgents.

The United States wants Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to delay his second-term inauguration over concerns it could inflame an election feud with his political rival Abdullah Abdullah, jeopardizing peacemaking efforts with the Taliban, Reuters reported Monday. 

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Ghani plans to take the oath of office on Thursday, an Afghan official said as Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission declared him last week winner of the Sept. 28 presidential election.

However, his main rival Abdullah rejected the result and pledged to form his own government; also proclaiming himself the winner and planning a parallel inauguration, according to Afghan media reports.

The competing claims, neither of which Washington has recognized, threaten a U.S.-led peace process with the Taliban as the peace deal is to be followed by inter-Afghan talks on a political settlement to end decades of war.

The Ghani-Abdullah feud threatens to further complicate the naming of a delegation to negotiate with the insurgents. Also, the Taliban have always refused to negotiate with the government, which they consider a U.S. puppet.

In the 2014 polls, the same presidential candidates ended in a deadlock accusing each other of massive fraud. The U.S. arbitrated the dispute and settled in a power-sharing system that made Ghani president and Abdullah his chief executive.

Since then, the relationship between the two men has been marked by an intense struggle for power.

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A source familiar with the matter said that because of those concerns, U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been in Kabul since last week, wants Ghani to delay his planned inauguration to a second five-year term.

The U.S. State Department and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment and the Afghan Embassy in Washington declined to comment.

This comes as the U.S. and the Taliban - which has been fighting the U.S.-led NATO forces in the country since their regime was toppled in 2001 -  will start off a week-long reduction in violence that is to culminate on Saturday with the signing of a U.S.-Taliban deal on a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Talks between the Taliban and the U.S. aimed at ending the war collapsed on Sept. 7 as President Donald Trump decided to unilaterally cancel talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders after the group claimed the attack in Kabul that killed a U.S. soldier and 11 civilians, despite already having already reached a draft peace deal.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan continues to be Washington’s longest conflict in its history. It was started after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan as part of the so-called "war on terror" to dismantle Al-Qaeda by removing the Taliban from power. 

Almost US$975 billion has been spent and between 147,000 and 220,000 people have died.

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