Abdullah and Ghani reach agreement on power-sharing, national unity government in Afghanistan

In what constitutes a big foreign policy success for President Barack Obama and the United States, Afghan presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah have reached agreement on a power-sharing arrangement.

See

Rod Nordland, “Afghan Presidential Rivals Finally Agree on Power-Sharing Deal,” New York Times, September 20, 2014.

Under the agreement, Ghani will assume the position of President, while Abdullah will assume the new position of Chief Executive Officer, with primary responsibility for the execution of government policies. Top posts will be shared equally among the followers of the two candidates.

Nordland reports,

The draft agreement obtained by The Times has changed slightly since it was written, according to diplomats and campaign officials, but the key points are unaltered in the latest version initialed Saturday night. The agreement gives substantial powers to the newly created position of chief executive officer, defining it as having “the functions of an executive prime minister.”

The agreement also creates a council of ministers, headed by the chief executive and including two deputies and all cabinet ministers. “The Council of Ministers will implement the executive affairs of the Government,” the agreement states. In addition, while the president would head his cabinet, which also includes the ministers, “The CEO will be responsible for managing the Cabinet’s implementation of government policies, and will report on progress to the President directly and in the Cabinet.”

Another clause calls for “parity in the selection of personnel between the President and the CEO at the level of head of key security and economic institutions, and independent directorates.”

Significantly, the U.S.-brokered agreement was achieved in large part as a result of the leadership and efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry.

The deal opens the way to the inauguration of President Ghani in the next few days, the signing of the Status of Forces agreement with the U.S. which will allow the continuation of military assistance beyond 2014, and the financial and military support accompanis it.

A strong U.S. presence and active role in brokering differences between the two candidates and their followers will be required if the agreement is to take hold, and the great distrust between the opposing camps is to be overcome.

The agreement marks a great success, if not of the democratic electoral process in Afghanistan, at least in terms of avoiding the great disaster that would have occurred had it not been reached.

The inauguration og Ghani will also mark the first peaceful transition of power in as long as anyone can remember, with President Hamid Karzai giving up the formal reigns of power which he has held for the last 12 years.

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