Afghan Presidential Candidates To Sign Power-Sharing Deal

After months of contention, Afghanistan's presidential contenders have agreed to sign a power-sharing deal on the day a final recount is announced.

Afghan Presidential Candidates To Sign Power-Sharing Deal
U.S. Department of State

After a hotly contested runoff vote, allegations of widespread fraud, and an exhaustive recount process, Afghanistan is about to finally learn who its new president will be. Probably.

The two main contenders in the presidential race, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, have announced they will sign a power-sharing agreement on Sunday, the same day final electoral results are due to be announced.

Abdullah and Ghani have been wrangling over the presidency for 5 months — Abdullah took an early lead in the initial tally, but Ghani pulled ahead in the subsequent runoff vote.

Since then, allegations of widespread voter fraud by both sides led to a bitter standoff between the candidates. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry helped negotiate an exhaustive recount of all 8 million votes, along with an early version of Sunday's final unity deal.

The terms of the agreement haven't been made public, but it will likely create a secondary government position for the runner-up — presumed to be Abdullah. This new position will have considerable power in Afghanistan's new unity government. (Video via Al Jazeera)

Both candidates have already pledged to support the power-sharing arrangement regardless of the final vote tally. And while everyone appears confident that a unity deal will be signed Sunday, there's still one small bit of uncertainty surrounding the entire compromise.

Late Saturday, The New York Times was still reporting aides from Abdullah's camp were sticking to a contentious demand — the candidate wouldn't agree to a power-sharing deal unless the exact results of the recount are never made public.

A spokesman for Ghani told the press that all outstanding issues have been resolved, but it's still not clear how the dispute was solved.

The U.S. is anxiously awaiting the election of a new president, who will be prompted to sign a security agreement allowing 10,000 U.S. forces to remain in the country for security reasons. Previous president Hamid Karzai refused to sign the deal.

This video includes images from the U.S. Department of State.