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US: Afghan Election Loser Will Play Role in Government

US: Afghan Election Loser Will Play Role in Government
The United States says whatever outcome of Afghanistan's election audit, the candidate who does not have the most votes will play a formal role in the new government.

A senior U.S. administration official would not confirm the structure of a national unity government, but told reporters Monday that no constituency will be cut out of the governing process.

In a deal mediated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday, rival Afghan presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani agreed to a full U.N.-supervised audit of the entire runoff poll and committed to abide by the final results.

The U.S. official said candidates also agreed to a framework that would move Afghanistan "away from the brink of turmoil" towards lasting unity and stability. The New York Times reported the framework includes the future creation of a parliamentary democracy with a prime minister as head of government and a president as head of state.

The American official would not confirm the report and said Afghans must define the framework for themselves and institute constitutional reforms over the next few years to ensure everyone is represented fairly.

Millions of Afghans took part in the first round of presidential elections April 5, defying threats of violence by the Taliban while election authorities claimed the turnout was even higher in the June 14 runoff vote.  Abdullah led the first round but trails in preliminary second round results that put Ghani in the lead by about a million votes.
 
Abdullah rejected the outcome, accusing President Hamid Karzai, election authorities and the Ghani campaign of colluding against him to rig the vote that could lead to the first peaceful transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history.

On Monday, the senior U.S. administration official said both candidates recognize the importance of restoring legitimacy to the electoral process. He said Abdullah and Ghani are committed to working through the process for the sake of the Afghan people.

Following hours of talks with the candidates, Kerry said "every single ballot" cast in Afghanistan will be audited in Kabul beginning Sunday.  ISAF security forces will safely transport the ballots from across the country for international monitors proposed by the United Nations to audit them.

Kerry said the process will take a number of weeks.  He also said outgoing President Hamid Karzai has agreed to postpone the presidential inauguration date of August 2 to accommodate the audit.

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