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The Outcome of Intense Negotiations


As the US Secretary of State John Kerry is struggling to broker an agreement between Afghan elections stakeholders for resolving the election crisis, there are leaks suggesting vote recounts and some sort of coalition government. According to unconfirmed reports, the talks are centered at audit of votes of more than 11,000 stations. It seems there has been much progress in the talks as Mr. Kerry has been intensely negotiating with the two candidates and all other stakeholders in the US embassy in Kabul. After the UN special representative to Afghanistan submitted his plan to the electoral bodies and the two candidates, reports suggest that his proposal comprising audit and recount of the 8,000 ballot boxes in addition to another condition set by Abdullah has been accepted by Ashraf Ghani.

As everyone was waiting for news of agreement from the mediation, which was set to be announced through a press conference, leaks suggested that all parties have been close to an agreement framework which would see at the end formation of a government formed by both the winner and loser of the elections. All details of the meetings are not published yet; however, it seems Mr. Kerry is trying to explore a way for recount of the votes to be acceptable for both the candidates. As the US and the UN both are now engaged in talks with the election stakeholders, there are visible differences in the ways the UN and the US pursues for resolving the crisis.

As the United States is stressing that all reasonable complaints of any candidate should completely considered, whether by the UN or without it, the UN seems to have agreed with President Karzai that all efforts should be led by the two election bodies. On the other hand, the US is seemingly trying to find a safe passage of Afghanistan from the crisis as it is encouraging the candidates to make political deals. Prior to John Kerry’s visit to Kabul, US special envoy to Afghanistan tacitly proposed a coalition setup as the solution for leading the country out of the crisis. The international mediation would be much more effective if the US and the United Nations had a unified stance over how to deal with the election crisis. The difference in approach of the United Nations and the US government makes the situation even more complicated.

President Karzai’s stance as quoted from him that he would accept solutions through Afghanistan’s electoral institutions suggests that he is not prepared for giving a role the United States to propose solutions that might bypass the two election commissions. President Karzai’s insistence on the role of the IEC and the ECC conveys the message to Abdullah’s team that he is doing everything he can to block any effort for bypassing the IEC which is viewed as partial by Abdullah’s camp. It is very necessary at this stage of negotiations for all the stakeholders to reach a political consensus over the procedures of the vote recount and formation of the next government.


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