Presidential rivals hold parallel oath ceremonies in Kabul

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Media reports say blasts were reported in Kabul yesterday as Afghanistan’s two leading presidential candidates held separate swearing-in ceremonies in Kabul after both claimed to have won last year’s elections.

Afghan officials say nobody was hurt in the explosions on Monday. It was not immediately clear where they had taken place. The Islamic State (IS) terror group claimed responsibility.

According to The Guardian, the incumbent Ashraf Ghani took his oath of office at the country’s presidential palace in Kabul in a ceremony on Monday attended by foreign diplomats including the US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

At about the same time, Ghani’s rival Abdullah Abdullah was holding his own inauguration ceremony despite negotiations late into the night on Sunday in an attempt to find a compromise between the rivals. The Guardian says television stations in the country broadcast the two ceremonies side by side.

TOLONews says Abdullah vowed to establish an inclusive government, focusing on peace and governance reforms.

He reportedly said he is nonetheless interested in talks to solve tensions. Abdullah said during his ceremony that if he accepted Ghani’s purported victory it would “be the end of democracy in Afghanistan” and called for renewed talks to break the impasse.

Experts note that the dispute threatens to leave the internationally recognized Afghan government weak and divided after the signing last week of a US agreement with the Taliban that aims to facilitate the withdrawal of most foreign troops from the country.

According to TOLONews, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a tweet late Monday said that the US strongly supports a unified and sovereign Afghanistan and “opposes any effort to establish a parallel government or any use of force to resolve political differences.”

The US peace envoy for Afghanistan Khalilzad also tweeted: “I spent much of the last week trying to help President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to come to an agreement on an inclusive and broadly accepted government. We will continue to assist.”

Source: Asia plus