Kerry Brokers Deal To End Afghan Election Crisis

Secretary of State John Kerry has helped the candidates in Afghanistan's contested election work out a formula to resolve their dispute over the runoff election results. All votes will be audited.

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Arun Rath sitting in for Rachel Martin. Some good news out of Afghanistan this morning; the two presidential candidates have agreed to settle their dispute over last month's runoff election. Candidate Abdullah Abdullah charged vote was rigged for opponent Ashraf Ghani and said he would not accept the results. But as NPR's Sean Carberry reports, Secretary of State John Kerry helped get things back on track.

SEAN CARBERRY, BYLINE: This press conference was delayed by nearly 12 hours as Kerry continued deep into his second day of shuttling between the candidates, the U.N. and President Karzai. Kerry's served as Washington's troubleshooter here before, and he has deep relationships with the candidates and Karzai. Finally, Kerry took the podium flanked by Abdullah, Ghani and U.N. special representative Jan Kubis. Kerry announced the deal.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: Both candidates have committed to participate in and abide by the results of the largest, most comprehensive possible audit.

CARBERRY: He says that all 8 million votes cast will be audited to address claims of fraud.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

KERRY: This is the strongest possible signal by both candidates of a desire to restore legitimacy to the process and to Afghan democracy.

CARBERRY: The review will take place in Kabul, and NATO will transport all the ballot boxes from around the country. The U.N. and other international observers will supervise the audit that will be conducted by Afghanistan's electoral commissions.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

KERRY: The candidates' campaigns each provide joint oversight of the audit.

ASHRAF GHANI: We, the two candidates, categorically abide by the findings.

CARBERRY: Ghani says the two candidates have agreed to the most thorough audit in the history of any election. Abdullah says that the candidates forged an additional agreement.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: We also have a framework of national unity government once the ballot papers are claimed.

CARBERRY: Abdullah and Ghani say that whoever is declared the winner will immediately form a broad and inclusive government, though they provided no details on how power would be divided. The audit will take weeks to complete, and President Karzai has agreed to push back the inauguration ceremony originally scheduled for August 2. Sean Carberry, NPR News, Kabul.

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