After months of political deadlock, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and his election rival Abdullah Abdullah on Sunday signed a power-sharing agreement in which Ghani remains in his post and Abdullah takes a leading role in the peace process.
International responses were quick to follow.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted:
"After a protracted period, President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah have agreed to form an inclusive government in which Dr. Abdullah will be the peace process lead. The outline for this compromise has been in place for 10 weeks. We welcome the compromise and wish the new government success."
Khalilzad continued: "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 that existed under NUG, as Afghans negotiated this govt."
The peace envoy concluded: "It is high time to take seriously the resolve of the Afghan people, and the world, to finally see an end to this conflict. Dr. Abdullah must move forward with full speed and urgency, and be sincerely supported therein by the current Afghan government."
NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a statement welcomed the signing of the political agreement.
“I welcome the decision taken by Afghanistan’s political leaders to resolve their differences and join efforts to form an inclusive government,” said Stoltenberg.
The NATO chief 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.”
NATO urged all parties to seize the opportunity for peace.
“We need to see a comprehensive agreement which ends violence; safeguards the human rights of all Afghans, including women; upholds the rule of law; and eliminates terrorist safe havens once and for all,” said NATO.
Stoltenberg said that NATO Allies and partners remain firmly committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security and stability, through the Resolute Support training mission, and with funding.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in a statement welcomed the agreement reached between Ghani and Abdullah to resolve the political impasse and said this will enable the leaders to address the grave challenges facing the country.
“The Mission acknowledges that both sides had to make compromises to reach this important agreement. It is now hoped that the spirit of cooperation will continue, with all elements in government working together to strengthen progress in good governance, the rule of law, and anti-corruption, and to protect the rights of all citizens while continuing the advancement of Afghan women,” UNAMA said.
“At this time, Afghanistan is best served by a representative government that can present a united front to tackle the nation’s most pressing issues, particularly the need to move forward on intra-Afghan negotiations, managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worsening humanitarian situation, as well as the ongoing conflict and security challenges,” UNAMA said.
The US, Turkey, India and Canada also welcomed the agreement.
Glad to hear from Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah about their agreement on inclusive governance. We welcome their commitment to act now for peace in Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
“Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the new Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation. Secretary Pompeo congratulated the two leaders for reaching an agreement on inclusive governance for Afghanistan. Secretary Pompeo noted that he regretted the time lost during the political impasse. He reiterated that the priority for the United States remains a political settlement to end the conflict and welcomed the commitment by the two leaders to act immediately in support of prompt entry into intra-Afghan negotiations,” the US Department of State said in a statement.
"Canada is pleased that Afghanistan’s political leaders have come to a diplomatic resolution. This agreement comes when unity is essential for the wellbeing of the Afghan people and to build upon the achievements of the past 19 years," Canadian ambassador in Kabul Dave Metcalfe said.
Turkey welcomed the Ghani-Abdullah agreement: “We wish that the said reconciliation is implemented in a fair manner and a partnership spirit prevails in the new Afghan Government,” reads a statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
“India welcomes the Political Agreement concluded by the political leadership in Kabul today. India has consistently supported inclusive governance, national unity, strong institutions, Constitutional order, rights of all sections of society and the territorial integrity of Afghanistan,” Indian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also spoke to Abdullah Abdullah and welcomed the move as a positive step.
According to Abdullah, the Iranian Foreign Minister pledged to work with Afghanistan toward achieving a ceasefire and sustainable peace.
The political tension emerged as a consequence of the disputed presidential election of last year, the result of which was announced in February. As a result, the two leaders, Ghani and Abdullah, held inauguration ceremonies on the same day in their adjacent respective palaces. Ghani was declared president by the Independent Election Commission after earning a slightly higher percentage than his rival Abdullah.