National Unity Government – Obama appeal



The candidates

U.S. President Barack Obama has called on presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai ( pictured) on Friday thanking “them for their leadership in reaching an agreement to form a national unity government”, the White House said in a statement.

The president commended Abdullah and Ghani-Ahmadzai “for putting the interests of Afghanistan first and committing to working together as partners in governance.”

Both candidates have pledged to accept the results of the ongoing recount, which Abdullah demanded after rejecting a preliminary tally that showed Ghani-Ahmadzai leading the June 14 runoff.

“Noting that the audit is steadily progressing, the president encouraged both candidates to publically endorse their previously agreed political framework and continue their dialogue on the details of its implementation to ensure the Afghan people have full confidence in the ongoing electoral process and outcome,” the statement read.

He also “reiterated that there is no justification for rhetoric that threatens extra-constitutional measures and urged Dr. Abdullah and Dr. Ghani to continue to move forward in the spirit of collegiality to maintain national unity during this historic democratic transition.”

The statement added that U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, would remain in close consultation with Ghani-Ahmadzai, Abdullah and outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Both candidates have signaled their intention to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that will allow nearly 10,000 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan post 2014 after the withdrawal of foreign troops.

On Friday, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said that a proposal for the vote auditing process has been submitted to election officials despite the fact that the two presidential candidates failed to agree on the criteria to be used.

“We want the IEC to make a decision, time is limited and both candidates could not agree on the criteria,” UNAMA spokeswoman Neelab Mubarez said.

According to Mubarez, the proposal, which has been delivered to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), suggests public hearings be held by IEC Commissioners in the presence of UN representatives, observers and media.

The implementation of the proposal has been welcomed by Abdullah’s campaign team and said that they expect some of their suggestions to be included in the proposal. The campaign team has advocated a larger role for the UN during the auditing process because of its mistrust of the election commissions.

Meanwhile, Ghani-Ahmadzai’s campaign team has acknowledged disagreements over the invalidation of votes, but expressed faith in the IEC.