In a deal mediated by US secretary of state John Kerry, rival Afghan presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani have agreed to a full UN-supervised audit of the entire runoff poll and committed to abide by the final results. It may still be premature to conclude that Kerry has been able to resolve the electoral dispute. Yet the agreement demonstrates that the US still wields extraordinary influence over the stakeholders in Afghanistan’s third presidential polls. The deal calls for an audit of 8.1 million votes, which means that 100 per cent of the votes cast should be re-checked. This marks another world record set by Afghanistan.
The huge audit process, which may take weeks, started within the 24 hours of the announcement under UN supervision. In the presence of Kerry and Ján Kubiš, the special representative of the UN general secretary to Afghanistan, both candidates affirmed that they would accept the audit results. The eventual true winner will form a national unity government including all-important political entities. The final shape of the coalition government and modalities for establishing it will be discussed later.
If the agreement holds and the winner is able to successfully pick up the reins of power from outgoing president Hamid Karzai, it will mark the first transition from one nominally democratically elected leader to another for the nation. Afghanistan and the world community need this. As 2014 winds down and the last of the foreign troops prepare to depart the country, a successful transition of power would somewhat allay fears that the country will implode on their withdrawal. It props up the belief that the world was right to intervene in the first place. So far as India is concerned we have the ability to work with whoever comes to power. But at this point in Afghanistan’s history, the process of elections, whatever the outcome, must be believable and acceptable to the people.