Washington:US President Barack Obama has said Afghanistan will witness the first democratic transfer of power in its history if the two presidential candidates agree to abide by the results of the internationally supervised ballot auditing.
"Thanks to the Afghans and the courage of the two candidates, both of whom I spoke to last week, the candidates have agreed to abide by the results of a comprehensive and internationally supervised audit that will review all the ballots and to form a unity government," Obama said yesterday.
If they keep their commitments, Afghanistan will witness the first democratic transfer of power in the history of that nation, he said.
This progress will honour both the candidates who have put the interests of a united Afghanistan first, the millions of Afghans who defied threats in order to vote and the service of US troops and civilians who have sacrificed so much, Obama said soon after he was briefed by Secretary of State John Kerry.
"This progress reminds ;us that even as our combat mission in Afghanistan ends this year, America`s commitment to a sovereign, united and democratic Afghanistan will endure - along with our determination that Americans are never again threatened by terrorists inside of Afghanistan," he said.
Obama`s statement came after the Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan began the process to audit ballots.
"The purpose of the audit is to finalise the election and to honour the millions of Afghans who participated," State Department Spokesperson, Jen Psaki said.
She said the audit will be conducted by the IEC under close supervision of the United Nation in accordance with international best practices, utilising an IEC checklist supplemented by UN best practices recommendations.
Noting that the international and Afghan observers along with representatives of the campaigns will provide oversight and transparency, Psaki said International observers were trained and would be ready when the audit started.
"The United States is working very hard, hand in hand with both candidates and with Afghan officials to ensure that the July 12th agreement is translated into the actions that the people of Afghanistan expect, and ensuring the full legitimacy and credibility of this audit process," she said.
"Already thousands of boxes are in Kabul ready to be counted. ISAF forces are guarding these boxes and there are about a hundred international observers who have been trained, including 10 USAID contractors," she said.