Ashraf Ghani rejects sharing power if he

wins Afghan presidential recount
By Pamela Constable August 12 at 9:! A"
KABUL — Ashraf Ghani, one of two candidates competing to become Afghanistan’s
president, said Tuesday that the deadline for finishing a ote recount is slipping
and that a U!"!#bro$ered agreement for the rials to form a %oint goernment
afterward does not mean the winner will fully share power with the loser!
"pea$ing to foreign %ournalists at his fortified compound in the capital, Ghani
appeared to be trying to tamp down a surge of discontent among his supporters and
allies, many of whom are reportedly upset that he agreed under U!"! pressure to
accept a full recount of ballots from the troubled presidential runoff in &une and
form a 'unity( goernment with his rial, former foreign minister Abdullah
Abdullah!
)n *riday, Ghani restated those pledges during a isit by "ecretary of "tate &ohn *!
Kerry! But on Tuesday, he sought to clarify that he has not agreed to a power#
sharing agreement! +e said the winner will appoint the loser 'by decree( as a chief
e,ecutie to sere 'at the discretion of the president!( Abdullah has demanded
more authority if he loses!
Ghani also said Tuesday that although he 'hoped( the audit of -!. million otes
could be done in time to hae the new president attend a /AT) summit in early
"eptember, no inauguration date has been set because of 'technical uncertainties(
with the slow#going reiew! +e said he and Abdullah will attend the summit,
considered $ey to winning new foreign aid for the ailing Afghan economy!
Ghani finished ahead in the runoff but accepted the recount after Abdullah, who
came in first in an initial round of oting in April, charged that there had been
massie fraud! Ghani was careful Tuesday not to claim ictory! But he spo$e in a
distinctly presidential tone as he laid out a wide#ranging policy agenda for the ne,t
goernment, including ban$ing and anti#corruption initiaties as well as the rights
of women and Taliban prisoners!
“There will be no honeymoon,( said Ghani, 01, a cerebral former finance minister
and 2orld Ban$ official, describing the Afghan economy as being 'in deep
recession( approaching depression! +e said running for president 'appealed to me
precisely because it was so difficult!(
Ghani said he was determined to build a credible goernment and change the
country’s 'winner#ta$e#all( culture to a cooperatie one! Blaming Afghanistan’s
3uarrelsome political elite for 455 years of goernment dysfunction and conflict, he
owed to aoid such polari6ation! '7’m sic$ and tired of blood,( he said!
But Ghani made it clear that if he becomes president — which seems li$ely unless
close to . million otes for him are inalidated — he will be fully in charge! '8ual
authority is not possible,( he said! 'The position of the chief e,ecutie will solely
depend on the discretion of the president!(
9any Afghans are confused about the nature of the unprecedented %oint goerning
agreement made under pressure from the United "tates as the election process was
rapidly collapsing! They are also worried about a resurgence of iolence among the
dominant :ashtun and Ta%i$ ethnic groups, although both candidates pointedly
courted strongmen from dierse bac$grounds!
After the fraud#marred &une .1 runoff, some of Abdullah’s ethnic Ta%i$
supporters threatened to ta$e power by force if he was declared the loser! /ow,
some of Ghani’s fellow ethnic :ashtun supporters fear that Abdullah, if he loses,
will be gien too much power to fill lucratie goernment posts and will function
more li$e a prime minister! Ghani too$ pains Tuesday to s3uelch this notion!
;et, despite Kerry’s prodding and pledges from both men to wor$ together no
matter who wins, neither candidate has laid out a detailed ision for how that
would wor$, and both are still forming teams to meet and discuss these issues!
Ghani ac$nowledged Tuesday that until a clear winner emerges from the ote audit,
any discussions between the candidates will be speculatie! American and U!/!
officials hae urged them to start wor$ing out a goerning plan before the audit is
done and a new president ta$es office!
The audit, suspended three times amid partisan disputes, has resumed slowly oer
the past wee$! <ach day, about =55 bo,es on aerage hae been counted, and by
9onday election officials reported that >,-0= bo,es — about ?0 percent of the total
— had been audited!
U!"! and U!/! officials hae sought a ballot recount that is both thorough and
speedy, hoping to end the nation’s power acuum, cement a new security pact with
the United "tates and obtain new aid from /AT) countries! )n 9onday, U!"!
Ambassador &ames @unningham said the /AT) summit would be a 'ery
important opportunity for the new president to reaffirm Afghanistan’s engagement
under a new goernment with many of its international partners!(
But the audit, while gathering some speed, is still plagued by time#consuming
disputes! At one recount table this wee$, monitors for Abdullah complained that a
bo, from Kandahar proince, a pro#Ghani area, had arried with the seals bro$en
and should be thrown out, but officials insisted that all 055 ballots had to be
e,amined!
At another table, where a bo, from pro#Abdullah +erat proince was being
discussed, a monitor from Ghani’s side $ept saying that all the chec$ mar$s for
Abdullah were similar! A long argument bro$e out in 8ari, :ashto and <nglish,
piles of ballots were sorted and resorted, and no one could agree on how many
arieties of 'similar( chec$ mar$s e,isted!
“;ou need to hae patience! ;ou need to gie me time,( said a U!/! official assisting
the audit, trying to 3uiet the cacophony as he went through yet another pile! '2e all
want to get this done, but we hae to do it right!(
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