Afghanistan’s rival presidential candidates have agreed to a full recount of ballots cast last month, in a deal brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that’s aimed at resolving a potentially damaging political deadlock.
The 100 percent recount is set to begin within 24 hours, and a presidential inauguration, which had been scheduled for Aug. 2, will be postponed, Kerry told a joint news conference with the two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, according to Reuters.
Kerry said it would be the “largest, most comprehensive audit” of the ballots possible. NPR’s Sean Carberry, reporting from Kabul, says the process “will take weeks.”
“Both candidates have committed to participate in and abide by the results of the largest and most comprehensive audit; every single ballot that was cast will be audited,” Kerry said. “This is the strongest possible signal by both candidates of the desire to restore legitimacy to the process.”
The Associated Press says Ghani and Abdullah have agreed to a national unity government.
A preliminary count has Ghani in the lead, but Abdullah has charged election fraud.
As we reported on Friday, the two sides had earlier agreed to recount only a portion of the thousands of polling stations where ballots were cast by an estimated 8 million people.