Secretary of state John Kerry said on Saturday both of Afghanistan’s presidential candidates were committed to abiding by the results of the “largest and most comprehensive audit” of the election runoff ballots possible. Kerry stood with the two candidates who are disputing the results of Afghanistan’s presidential election. He announced that finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah had agreed to abide by a 100%, internationally supervised audit of all ballots in the presidential election in Kabul. “Both candidates have committed to participate in and abide by the results of the largest and most comprehensive audit; every single ballot that was cast will be audited,” Kerry said. “This is the strongest possible signal by both candidates of the desire to restore legitimacy to the process.” The audit is expected to take a “number of weeks” and will begin with ballot boxes in Kabul. Ballot boxes from the provinces are to be flown by helicopter to the capital by US and international forces and examined on rolling basis. Observers from each campaign as well as international observers will be involved in the oversight of the review, and the candidate with the most votes will be declared the winner and become president.
Both candidates agreed to respect the result, and the winner will immediately form a government of national unity. The inauguration, which had been scheduled for 2 August, will be postponed.
Abdullah, who spoke first at the news conference announcing the breakthrough, said the election created “serious challenges”. But he praised Ghani for contributing to the agreement over how the audit would be conducted and the framework for a unity government to be established once the victor is determined.
Ghani returned the compliments to Abdullah, lauding his competitor’s patriotism and commitment to a dialogue that promotes national unity. “Stability is the desire of everyone,” he said. “Our aim is simple: We’ve committed to the most thorough audit” in history. Such a process would remove any ambiguity about the result, he added.