Kabul: "Radicals" backing Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah could foment postelection violence if he isn't given an equitable share of power, his spokesman warned today ahead of a meeting with his rival aimed at resolving a monthslong election dispute.
The camps of the two candidates former Foreign Minister Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai said the two were expected to meet later today or tomorrow to negotiate a final deal on what powers should be given to a proposed chief executive position, the final sticking point of a national unity government.
Ominously, a spokesman for Abdullah the man most here believe is behind in the official ballot count insinuated that the election could still end violently. In what appeared to be either a threat or a negotiating tactic, the spokesman said Abdullah's powerful factional supporters are pressuring their candidate to not cede any power to Ghani Ahmadzai.
"If we agree and the terms of the agreement are providing an equal opportunity for both camps and defuses that tension, it might reduce the prospect of violence," Mujib Rahman Rahimi, an Abdullah campaign spokesman, told The Associated Press.
"But imagine if you have an agreement that insults one side and promotes the other side and each side firmly believes he is a winner that could be a recipe for radicals to re-emerge and challenge the leadership and say this is not acceptable," he said.
Abdullah won the first round of the election in April but did not secure enough votes to avoid a June runoff. A preliminary count showed Ghani Ahmadzai winning the second round, but both sides alleged widespread fraud. Abdullah's camp says it believes some 2.5 million votes out of a total 8 million cast were fake.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry helped broker an agreement this summer under which all 8 million ballots would be recounted, a process which was concluded yesterday. On a parallel track, the two candidates have been trying to reach an agreement on a national unity government that would see one of them hold the as yet undefined position of chief executive of the government.
A spokesman for Ghani Ahmadzai said the former World Bank official is committed to a national unity government, but he also said that giving the losing candidate chief executive power over cabinet ministers would violate the Afghan constitution.
The international community had hoped for a smooth transition of power as most foreign forces withdraw by the end of the year. The United States wants the next Afghan president to quickly sign a security agreement to allow some 10,000 troops to remain to assist with counterterrorism operations and the training of Afghan security forces.