Afghan president and rival agree power-sharing deal

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and political rival Abdullah Abdullah have signed a power-sharing agreement two months after they both declared themselves the winner of last September’s presidential election.

Mr Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi tweeted on Sunday that a political deal between the two men had been signed in which Mr Ghani would remain president of the war-torn nation.

The deal calls for Mr Abdullah to lead the country’s National Reconciliation High Council, and some members of his team will be included in the cabinet.

The Reconciliation Council has been given the authority to handle and approve all affairs related to Afghanistan’s peace process.

Omed Maisam, a spokesman for Mr Abdullah’s team, confirmed an agreement had been signed at the presidential palace.

President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah both declared themselves the winner of last September’s election (Rahmat Gul/AP)

Afghanistan has been in political disarray since the country’s election commission in December announced Mr Ghani had won the September 28 election with more than 50% of the vote.

Mr Abdullah had received more than 39% of the vote, according to the election commission, but he and the Elections Complaint Commission alleged widespread voting irregularities.

Both men declared themselves president in parallel inauguration ceremonies in March. They have been locked in a power struggle since then.

The agreement announced on Sunday comes as Kabul and other cities are in lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Afghanistan has performed only limited testing of about 22,000 and has more than 6,400 confirmed infections in a nation of 36.6 million.

As more testing becomes available, the country’s infection numbers are likely to rise sharply, according to public health officials.

The death toll – officially at 168 – is likely to be much higher.

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