KABUL – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and political rival Abdullah Abdullah signed a power-sharing agreement, two months after both declared themselves the winner of last September's presidential election, Ghani’s spokesman said Sunday.
The political deal would see Ghani remain president of the war-torn nation, tweeted his spokesman Sediq Sediqqi. The deal also calls for Abdullah to lead the country's National Reconciliation High Council, and he will be able to appoint half of Ghani's Cabinet and issue executive orders.
The Reconciliation Council has been given the authority to handle and approve all affairs related to Afghanistan's peace process. The council will have five deputies from both leaders' teams.
Omed Maisam, a spokesman for Abdullah’s team, confirmed an agreement had been signed at the presidential palace. “A technical team will work on the implementation of the agreement and details will be shared later,” he said.
Afghanistan has been in political disarray since the country's election commission in December announced Ghani had won the Sept. 28 election with more than 50% of the vote. Abdullah had received more than 39% of the vote, according to the election commission, but he and the Elections Complaint Commission charged widespread voting irregularities.
Ghani and Abdullah both declared themselves president in parallel inauguration ceremonies in March. They have been locked in a power struggle since then and the discord prompted the Trump administration to announce it would cut $1 billion in assistance to Afghanistan if the two weren't able to work out their differences.
A peace agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban signed Feb. 29 calls for U.S. and NATO troops to leave Afghanistan. It was seen at the time as Afghanistan’s best chance at peace following decades of war.
Since then, the U.S. has been trying to get the Taliban and the Afghan government to begin intra-Afghan negotiations, but the political turmoil and personal acrimony between Ghani and Abdullah impeded talks. Negotiations that were to take place in March never happened.