Kabul: Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah have inked a power-sharing agreement to end the political deadlock following last year's presidential election, a government official has confirmed.
Under the agreement signed on Sunday, Ghani remains as President, while Abdullah will head the High Council for National Reconciliation to lead the peace talks with the Taliban, reports Xinhua news agency.
Addressing a televised broadcast, President Ghani said that Afghans were able to settle their differences without mediation of foreign friends, a reference to the 2014 political dispute over election results which was later resolved with the mediation of former US Secretary of State John Kerry.
"I am hopeful the people of Afghanistan will see ceasefire in the coming days and then lasting peace in the country under the leadership of Abdullah," President Ghani said in his address.
For his part, Abdullah said: "Afghanistan has hugely suffered due to war, political instability and now COVID-19, and I am hopeful today's agreement will be the end of crisis."
Under the new agreement, Abdullah will introduce members of his team to the President to be included in the cabinet.
Abdullah, who served as Chief Executive in the previous government and contested the presidential poll on September 28, 2019, had challenged the outcome of the vote in which the Election Commission declared Ghani as winner.
When the delayed results of the election were finally announced in February, Ghani was again declared President by the Independent Election Commission after earning a slightly higher percentage than Abdullah, reports TOLO News.
But the tensions increased after Ghani and Abdullah, both held inauguration ceremonies on the same day in their adjacent respective palaces, after the latter rejected the outcome.
Welcoming Sunday's development, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted: "The US is prepared to partner with the new government in a peace process that ends the war. That process must be based on timely implementation of commitments made to date. Both leaders should not repeat mistakes in governing...
"It is high time to take seriously the resolve of the Afghan people, and the world, to finally see an end to this conflict."
In a statement, NATO's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: "In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued Taliban violence against their fellow Afghans, it is more important than ever that all Afghan leaders unite and work towards enduring peace in Afghanistan.
"We call on the Taliban to live up to their commitments, reduce violence now, take part in intra-Afghan negotiations, and make real compromises for lasting peace and the benefit of all Afghans."
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said the agreement will enable the leaders to address the grave challenges facing the country.
Besides, Turkey, India, Iran and Canada also welcomed the agreement.
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