UN Chief Urges Agreement on Afghan Unity Government

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging Afghanistan’s two presidential candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, to agree on a national unity government.

In a statement Wednesday Ban appealed to the two rivals to reach the agreement in accordance with commitments they made two months ago.

Ban called the present situation a pivotal moment for Afghanistan, and said a “genuine partnership” is required to address Afghanistan’s many challenges.

In a deal mediated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on July 12, Abdullah and Ghani agreed to a U.N.-supervised audit of the country’s disputed June 14 runoff vote and committed to abide by the final results. They also agreed to form a national unity government.

Earlier this week, Abdullah rejected the U.N.-led audit of the June 14 election, in which he claims to have defeated Ghani. He said the audit failed to separate “fraudulent votes” from legitimate ones, noting that legitimate votes would have “paved the way” to a political agreement.

Abdullah also said talks with Ghani on forming a unity government are deadlocked.

Results from the audit, although complete as of September 5, have yet to be released.

Millions of Afghans took part in the first round of presidential elections April 5, defying threats of violence by the Taliban. 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, which have Ghani in the lead by about one million votes.

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