Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah struck the deal on Sunday, ending a three-month standoff over disputed elections that had paralyzed the country at a key moment with US-led troops winding down their 13-year war against the Taliban.

The ‘unity government’ paves the way for a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) governing the presence of American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014, which outgoing President Hamid Karzai had refused to sign.

Under the deal, Abdullah will become ‘Chief Executive Officer’ (CEO), a role similar to prime minister, setting up a tricky balance of power.


US Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated Afghanistan for what he called a ‘moment of extraordinary statesmanship’ in which personal interests had been put aside for the sake of the country.

The "unity government... offers a huge opportunity for progress in Afghanistan, for the signing of the BSA in a week or so", he said.

Allegations of massive fraud in Afghanistan's June 14 runoff vote sparked a political crisis as both candidates claimed victory.

When the unity deal was finally signed after prolonged and difficult negotiations, Ghani embraced Abdullah briefly at a low-key ceremony in the presidential palace that lasted less than 10 minutes.


Read more: UN chief welcomes unity government deal in Afghanistan

Neither of the candidates spoke at the ceremony and it remained uncertain when they would address the nation or when the power-sharing agreement would be officially published. Kerry said he expected the presidential inauguration to be held next week.

"The Independent Election Commission declares Dr Ashraf Ghani as the President, and thus announces the end of election process," commission chief Ahmad Yousaf Nuristani later told reporters.

"During the election process fraud was committed from all sides. That has concerned people."

In a move likely to trigger complaints over transparency, Nuristani gave no figures for the winning margin, turnout or the number of fraudulent ballot papers thrown out in an UN-supervised audit that checked every individual vote.

Ghani was widely acknowledged to be on the brink of the presidency after coming well ahead in preliminary results released before the audit began.

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