Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that his successor must be chosen soon to “salvage the country,” which appeared to grow more volatile as the day progressed, the Washington Post reports:
In a rare public statement since he has been forced to postpone his departure from office, Karzai addressed hundreds of Afghan leaders gathered in the capital to honor a slain guerrilla commander. Karzai pleaded with the audience to join him in pressuring Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to put aside their differences so they can form a national unity government.
On Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a similar appeal to both of them to work together for a speedy settlement of the political crisis, VOA reports:
In a statement, he noted that in the U.S.-mediated deal in early July, both the candidates agreed to accept the nationwide audit of the presidential runoff results and form a government of national unity. It added that with the main audit completed last week and the announcement of updated results anticipated shortly, the Secretary-General expected the presidential hopefuls to now abide by their commitments to enable Afghanistan’s first peaceful transfer of power.
Perhaps the most significant step is to continue encouraging the creation of a national unity government in which the winning candidate integrates key supporters of the loser’s side, notes SethJones, director of the RAND Corporation’s International Security and Defense Policy Center, and author of “In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan.”
This would include appointing supporters to key cabinet posts or provincial governor positions. It might also involve the losing candidate selecting a chief executive officer in a new administration, he writes for the Wall Street Journal:
Most important, the U.S. and other NATO countries need to emphasize that their continued economic and military assistance to Afghanistan is contingent on a resolution of the political crisis. It makes little sense for the U.S. to sign a bilateral security agreement with a country that can’t even agree on its leader.
It would be a tragedy if one or both sides allowed the disputed election to fracture the country and increase the odds of a Taliban military victory—an outcome that neither side wants, and that would harm the Afghan population most of all.