After an initial election in April…
... multiple interventions by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry…
... and an unprecedented audit of 8 million ballots…
Afghanistan's presidential election has finally been brought to a close. So who came out on top in this five-and-a-half-month race?
Ashraf Ghani — the candidate who lead the June runoff elections, has been declared the winner, meaning he will become the next president of Afghanistan.
As part of a unity government deal signed Saturday, his opponent Abdullah Abdullah will take on the prime minister-like position of CEO, which will give him considerable powers in the executive branch.
Sunday's announcement didn't include the exact results of the 8-million-ballot audit performed by the Independent Election Commission over the past few months. Abdullah had repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the audit throughout its process.
The lack of an official tally and the fact that both candidates will now be sharing power has many analysts saying this protracted battle for the presidency has actually weakened Afghanistan's democracy.
AL JAZEERA POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: “Today is a mix of good news and bad news. The good news is there is an end to a … political crisis. But the bad news is a huge setback to democracy in Afghanistan.”
HARAT-NAZIMI WASLAT VIA DEUTSCHE WELLE: “Afghanistan might have two winners in this presidential election, but the losers are definitely the Afghan people.”
Still, The White House applauded the agreement calling it “an important opportunity for unity and increased stability.”
Kerry, who proposed the power-sharing deal back in July, released a statement saying, “If my recent visits to Kabul and the hours upon hours on the phone with these two men have taught me anything, it’s how invested Afghanistan is in this historic effort.”
As for the oft-mentioned NATO Status of Forces Agreement, Ghani has pledged to sign it, meaning U.S. and NATO troops will be able to remain in Afghanistan and funding will be made available to train Afghan security forces.
This video contains images from Getty Images, the U.S. Department of State, and EUPOL Afghanistan / CC BY-NC 2.0