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‘Loser of Afghan run-off will have role in new govt’

WASHINGTON: Afghanistan’s new leader – whoever it may be – will include the loser of the presidential runoff in a proposed unity government, a US official said Monday.
The United States served as a key broker in Saturday’s breakthrough in Kabul which saw Afghanistan’s rival claimants to the presidency, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, agree to an audit of all votes cast.
A senior US administration official said that while the winner of the recount would be declared president, “that president will be working in very specific ways with the person who did not win to ensure that all their interests are represented in the top leadership of the country.”
“There is a structure of an agreement in place, with details to be worked out by the candidates,” said the official, who spoke to reporters on a conference call on condition of anonymity. But it crucially provides “representation for all the people of Afghanistan” in the next government, he added. Asked if the run-off loser would have a formal role in the government, he said: “I think that’s right, yes — either that person or his designee.”
But he added it was “too early to discuss exactly how that would work, or certainly which positions may be held by which people.” Speculation has soared as to the makeup and structure of the future government, and while the US official said some details have already been hammered out in Kabul, he would not be drawn on whether it would resemble a parliamentary system. “The Afghans have to live by this, they’re the ones that need to talk about it,” the official said.
With US Secretary of State John Kerry conducting two days of shuttle diplomacy, the administration official said the landmark agreement between Abdullah and Ghani helped bring Afghanistan “from the brink of turmoil towards unity.”
“While we all took a collective sigh of relief on Saturday night, the hard work is still before us, both on the technical process, given all the logistical challenges that that imposes, as well as the other part of this... which is the political process.”

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