On September 29th, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was sworn in as Afghanistan's new president, replacing Hamid Karzai, who had been in power since 2001. Mr. Ghani’s first act as President was to swear in as Chief Executive Officer, his main rival for the Presidency, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, as per the agreement on the national unity government the two signed September 21. The signing of the agreement was crucial to breaking a political deadlock that nearly caused the government to grind to a halt and hurt the economy.
The road to this, Afghanistan’s first ever peaceful, democratic transfer of power in the country’s history, was long and difficult. After 8 months of contentious electioneering, two rounds of Presidential elections and a full re-count of the run-off election results, Dr. Ghani, former finance minister of Afghanistan and one-time World Bank economist, was declared the winner by the Independent Election Commission.
“We are committed as one in the national unity government,” said Dr. Abdullah, who at one time served as Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister. “Our commitment will be fulfilled together as unified team to create national unity.”
“[The United States] congratulate[s] President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah on this historic inauguration,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in a written statement. “They are both patriots committed to the success of their country. Never has that been more evident than in the spirit of cooperation and partnership that united them in establishing a government of national unity to fulfill Afghan aspirations for peace, prosperity and stability,” he wrote.
“This is a beginning, not an ending, and with all beginnings the toughest decisions are still ahead. As Afghanistan enters this new chapter in its history, the United States looks forward to deepening its enduring partnership with a sovereign, unified and democratic Afghanistan.”