Secretary of State John Kerry has successfully brokered a deal between Afghanistan’s two rival presidential candidates.
In order to settle a dispute over the results of the country’s June 14 election runoff, the leading contenders, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, agreed to abide by the results of a recount, which the United Nations will oversee.
“Both candidates have committed to participate in and abide by the results of the largest and most comprehensive audit,” Kerry said in Kabul, Afghanistan at a joint news conference, according to Reuters, just before midnight local time.
“Every single ballot that was cast will be audited,” Kerry added. Negotiations leading up to the agreement stretched out over the course of two days.
The contest’s deadlock has raised concerns about a smooth power transition in the Middle Eastern country at this rather precarious moment. The U.S. is currently withdrawing forces from Afghanistan after 12 straight years of war there. The country, meanwhile depends on foreign aid, with the U.S. being Afghanistan’s biggest foreign donor.
“This is the strongest possible signal by both candidates of the desire to restore legitimacy to the process,” Kerry added.
American officials are hoping for a quick resolution to the stalemate so that the U.S. can sign a vital security pact with Afghanistan that would allow a small number of American troops to remain in the country after 2014.
The recount is expected to take several weeks to complete. As such, the presidential inauguration will be postponed from its scheduled date on August 2.
Read more at NBCNews.com.