Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank economist, has been officially declared the new president of Afghanistan, after three months of political deadlock was resolved through a new, untested power-sharing arrangement with his arch rival. Ghani signed the agreement with Abdullah Abdullah, his adversary in presidential elections in June that left the country suspended in acrimony, fraud allegations and political paralysis. Under the deal, Ghani will run the cabinet and be in charge of strategic functions, while Abdullah will be able to appoint a “chief executive” who will be in charge of daily duties. Neither man appeared overjoyed as they signed the deal. When the election results were finally declared, the ranking official did not use the words “winner” or “loser”, nor did he announce the final voting figures.
“The independent election commission declares Dr Ashraf Ghani as the president, and thus announces the end of election process,” the electoral commission chief, Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani, simply told reporters. “During the election process fraud was committed from all sides … that has concerned people.”
The new leadership, under pressure to agree a new security deal with the US to pave the way for the removal of most foreign troops, has a formidable task ahead. It also has to rapidly pick up the business of day-to-day government, which has atrophied over the past six months through the bitterly contested electoral process.