The euphoria over a U.S.-brokered deal between Afghanistan’s rival presidential candidates at the weekend was a sign of how close some people believe the country came to a split along ethnic lines that could quickly turn violent. The speed at which that relief has evaporated suggests the political crisis, playing out as foreign troops prepare to withdraw after more than a decade policing the war-torn nation, is not over yet. And while Afghans and foreign governments fret over the fate of the election, an insurgency led by the ousted Taliban militia rages on. On Tuesday, at least 89 people were killed when a car bomb exploded in a crowded market in the eastern province of Paktika, one of the worst attacks in a year.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Kabul last week to secure a political agreement between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, who contested a June 14 run-off presidential vote, the results of which are still in dispute. [ID:nL4N0PO0AE]
The solution that pacified both parties, at least for now, was an ambitious, U.N.-supervised recount of all eight million votes cast – an exercise aimed at appeasing Abdullah who has alleged mass fraud and refuses to accept defeat.
It is designed both to weed out illegal votes and soften the blow for the losing candidate by introducing the idea of a unity government in which there would be both a president and a prime minister who would enjoy some powers.